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The 2015 Volume in CALICO’s Monograph Book Series.

Guest editors

Dr Ed Dixon (University of Pennsylvania, USA)

Dr Michael Thomas (University of Central Lancashire, UK)

Book Title

Researching Language Learner Interaction Online: From Social Media to MOOCs


This timely volume aims to publish new empirical research on language learning in digitally-mediated environments and conceptual chapters that address new research approaches for effectively understanding the complex interactions taking place online. This dual focus distinguishes the volume from existing books in the field and is based on a recognition of the need for qualitative, multimodal and mixed methods research approaches that aim to capture a holistic understanding of learner interaction in online spaces.

According to advocates, social network sites and new learning spaces like Coursera, Instreamia and other MOOCs are set to have an unprecedented impact on educational practice and affect the ways students engage with language and culture over the next decade. The volume will also examine the process of language acquisition in globally networked learning environments and the role that international interactions play in enriching the language learning experience and perspectives of world cultures. Chapter authors will make important contributions towards a better understanding of how international online interactions in online environments such as social networking sites can achieve proficiency goals and aid learner interaction, intercultural understanding and digital literacy skills. Chapters are requested which explore how digital environments provide learners with opportunities to:

●      Engage in meaningful conversations and exchange viewpoints with like-minded learners worldwide;

●      Compare one’s own cultural reference with a multiplicity of different cultural perspectives of the target language and culture;

●      Connect with other disciplines through online courses that offer professional and academic courses in foreign languages;

●      Continue their study of the target language beyond the school setting in multicultural online communities of practice.

In addition to discussing the potential contribution of MOOCs and social networks in terms of enriching the language-learning experience and preparing students for global citizenship through the study of a foreign language, authors will address a multiplicity of issues affecting language education at pedagogical and institutional levels. At the pedagogical level, this volume will examine instructional methods, learning strategies, student feedback, peer assessment and lifelong learning. At the institutional level, we will investigate issues of teacher readiness, accreditation and articulation.

The volume will have two parts,

●      with the first addressing new approaches to researching online CALL environments using digital technologies and applications

●      and the second providing examples of empirical research on learner interaction online e.g., in social networking sites such as Livemocha, virtual worlds, telecollaboration, and online and blended language learning contexts.

In the first stage, abstracts of no more than 250-300 words are requested on the following or related topics:

●      Methods and approaches to language learning and teaching in MOOCS, social networks and blended environments

●      Cultural and social approaches to online language study

●      Language learner interaction in virtual worlds

●      Proficiency and assessment of online learners

●      Microblogging and language learning

●      Input and output in digital-learning environments

●      Institutional readiness and professional development

●      Accreditation, curricular integration and articulation

●      Using digital video and screen capture software

●      Eye tracking software and digital literacy

●      Multimodal and new approaches to researching language learning in social networks

●      Big data and learner interaction

●      The ethics of online research with language learners


First Call for Abstracts (1 March  2014)

Deadline for submission of abstracts (1 April  2014)

Notification of contributors (1 May 2014)

First draft of full papers to be submitted (1 October 2014)

Publication of the CALICO monograph (1 May 2015)

Special Issue: CALICO Journal 32.2, September 2015

Guest editors: Regine Hampel and Ursula Stickler, The Open University, UK

From second language acquisition to second language use:
Qualitative and mixed-methods approaches to research in CALL today

Researchers in recent years have been pointing to the limitations of
quantitative approaches, which examine second language acquisition, and have
been stressing the importance of sociocultural and postmodern theories
alongside qualitative methodologies or mixed approaches combining
qualitative and quantitative methods that explore language use (e.g. Block
2003, CALICO Journal special issue 28(3) 2011, Kramsch 2002).

A number of different theories from a variety of disciplines support the use
of more qualitative approaches in social sciences generally and in education
and applied linguistics more specifically. These theories will inform the
contributions to this special issue which will argue for qualitative or
mixed-method approaches to researching learners’ activities in CALL

Sociocultural theories are based on the notion that learners construct
learning in interaction with their environment (e.g. Lantolf & Thorne 2006,
Vygotsky 1978, Wertsch 1991). The ecological perspective (Kramsch 2003, van
Lier 2004), for example, places language learning and the language learner
into a wider context and stresses the agency of learners, while complex
systems theory (Larsen-Freeman & Cameron 2008) emphasizes how the various
elements of the environment (including peers, teachers, and tools) are in
constant shift, influencing each other. A conversation analysis approach can
help to explore the impact of technological mediation on communication in an
L2 classroom. Activity theory (Engeström 1987) can be used to explain
elements of the “activity” of learning and their connection to other
elements within the activity triangle(s), including, amongst others, the
learner’s goals, their social environment, other learners, the tools they
use for learning, and the – often unspoken – rules and assumptions on
which their learning activity is based (Montoro 2012). Ethnographic
approaches are useful for exploring CALL from the point of view of the
participants in the field – which could be a second language class using
CALL or an online community of informal language learners.

Postmodern and critical theories of language use, e.g. those that focus on
superdiversity, migration, and identity, can also be brought into play to
enhance our understanding of the language learning process, the impact of
technology, and changes in identity that may result from language learning.
One of the methods used to investigate language learning and development in
relation to these aspects is critical discourse analysis (e.g. Blommaert et
al. 2001, 2005, Rampton 2013). Geosemiotics (Scollon & Scollon 2003)
constitutes a further – emerging – approach which is based on semiotic
theory that emphasises the importance of context for meaning making.
Language is thus seen as located in a physical, as well as a meaning space,
necessitating learners to understand how to interpret and use “signs”
and symbols in their environment.

Contributions will cover qualitative approaches, which will be broadly
conceived to include those that
–       favour understanding the subjective world of human experience over
explaining objective reality,
–       problematize social and political practice,
–       have a non-experimental research design,
–       use qualitative methods to approach data,
–       rely on interpretive analysis.

        By bringing together a variety of authors who have employed qualitative or
mixed-method methodologies to researching CALL, this Special Issue will
raise the awareness of researchers regarding the rich data and the valuable
insights that these approaches can generate when applied to aspects of
language learning using new technologies. The articles chosen will also
highlight the rigor and trustworthiness of such approaches.

        It is our hope that the Special Issue will stimulate debate about (1) the
criteria used to evaluate research in CALL, (2) the increasing importance
placed on understanding the learner’s perspective (giving learners a
voice) and focusing on the learning process and on the context in which
learning takes place, rather than on the product, and (3) the shift from
explaining to understanding entailed in moving from quantitative to more
qualitatively oriented research. In a wider sense, the Special Issue will
illustrate how qualitative and mixed-method approaches can deepen the
insights generated by more traditionally used quantitative methodologies and
contribute to creating a more balanced research landscape in CALL.

First Call for Papers    9 Jan 2014
Deadline for submission of abstracts     28 Feb 2014
Notification of contributors     31 Mar 2014
First draft of papers to be submitted    31 July 2014
Returned to authors for changes  31 Oct 2014
Second draft of papers to be submitted   31 Dec 2014
Returned to authors for final changes    31 Apr 2015
Special Issue to be published    Sep 2015

Abstracts: 200-300 words, submitted as email attachment (docx, doc, rtf) to
both  and
Submission of full manuscripts: After acceptance of the abstract, follow the
submission guidelines at CALICO Journal’s Open Journal System (OJS).

details see Make sure
you are a registered author with CJ and follow the stepwise submission
process. As the Journal section, select “Special Issue –

The deadline to submit proposals for CALICO 2014 is OCTOBER 31.

Call for Proposals

Open, Online, Massive: The Future of Language Learning?

Hosted by
Ohio University

Athens, Ohio
May 6-10

Workshops: Tuesday, May 6 – Wednesday, May 7, and Saturday, May 10
Opening Reception and Welcome: Wednesday, May 7
Presentation Sessions: Thursday, May 8 and Friday, May 9
Technology Showcase: Thursday, May 8

Log-in with your current member information on the site to submit a
proposal and for more information see


CALICO 2014 ANNUAL CONFERENCE  Call for Proposals

Open, Online, Massive: The Future of Language Learning?

Hosted by Ohio University

Athens, Ohio
May 6-10