Engagement with and Participation in Online role play Collaborative Arguments: A Sociocultural Perspective
AbstractDigitally mediated role plays indicate potential for collaboration, social exchange of information and knowledge as well as motivation for learning beyond classroom time. These elements are critical for ESL learners’ development of language and argumentative writing practices. The aim of this research project was to investigate how students’ engagement with and participation in online role play collaborative arguments shaped their literacy practices, and influenced their beliefs and thinking regarding particular societal issue. This qualitative research project based on a larger ethnographic case study and tools of action research investigated students’ interactions and experiences before, during and after the online role play. The study involved 20 ESL pre‑service students at one university in Uganda and was conducted in both the real and online spaces. The real space involved face‑to‑face sessions aimed at building students’ confidence in using blogs for online role play. While the online space involved non‑participant observations to gain understanding of the social dynamics of students’ engagement in online role play, and the opportunities for students to engage in literacy practices related to online argumentative compositions. The study findings indicated that engagement in online role play using blog platform provided a rich environment for learners to exercise their creativity, orchestrate multiple ways of meaning‑making and build tactical relations for purposes of collective action. Furthermore, the use of online role play collaborative arguments facilitated a shift from “ascribed” to “achieved” identities where students did not only become aware that they were dealing with issues larger than individual perspectives, associated with school, family, culture and the legal system, but also that there need for them to take part in the civic action.
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