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The Humanities Conference 2003

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No Borders: Virtual Communities and Online Learning

Dr. Karen Woodman.

This paper explores the results of a longitudinal study of an online MA in Applied Linguistics program, with approx. 120 students in at least 20 different countries. The use of technology in higher education can play a vital role in individuals’ formation of identity within the international reality of the global classroom, including addressing issues of access and equity. Taking online learning to its natural audience – a group of students from diverse backgrounds, interests, and experience, located around the globe and brought together in the virtual classroom – we find the true potential of technology to educate, confront, explore, and examine our place and identity in the global community.

Confronted daily by the perspectives of classmates living in diverse cultural settings and situations around the world, students in the virtual classroom learn to explore, discuss and debate concepts of both practical and theoretical relevance to their understanding of language, culture and communication. Meeting and learning about each other via CMC (computer mediated communication) technologies such as chat, email and bulletin board postings provides an ideal forum for discussions of global issues as related to individual experience. And from the individual experience, the group develops a global perspective.
The ancient agora is replaced by the invisible ties of the cyber-village.


Dr. Karen Woodman  (Australia)
Lecturer in Linguistics, Coordinator of MA in Applied Linguistics
School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics
University of New England

Dr. Karen Woodman is the Coordinator of the online MA in Applied Linguistics, and Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of New England. Her areas of interest include SLA, ESL, TESL and online learning.

  • Online learning
  • Global identity

(30 min Conference Paper, English)