Affordances and limitations of multilingual MOOC learners’ digital translanguaging practices

Year: 2021

Author: Koralage, Tharanga, Choi, Julie, Cross, Russell

Type of paper: Symposium

Open online education provisions, such as massive open online courses (MOOCS), provide access to multilingual students with varying levels of English language proficiency to participate in higher education. Within these online academic contexts, learners draw on their multiple language resources and affordances of digital technology and engage in a process called digital translanguaging to support their learning. However, there is a significant paucity of research that has examined the complex digital translanguaging practices of learners in online higher education settings. Thus, it is unclear what their learning experiences and needs are, specifically in the area of writing in online higher education environments. In this presentation, we draw on five case studies of multilingual MOOC learners and examine the processes in which they write a course-related response. Using online research methodologies such as screen sharing techniques to facilitate stimulated recall interviews, we zoom in on their online writing practices to 1. identify what languages and digital tools they use and 2. how they deploy them to construct their texts by tracing their online navigation paths captured in video recordings and screenshots. Using a digital translanguaging lens, we analyse these online writing practices and illustrate the affordances and limitations they offer for multilingual writers. The findings reveal digital translanguaging extends students’ access to language input, enabling learners to expand and enhance their word, phrase, and sentence level writing beyond their existing repertoire of knowledge. The evidence also demonstrates that digital translanguaging sets limits by leaving some of their needs unaddressed. By introducing digital translanguaging practices in online tertiary education settings, we argue students can achieve clarity and precision in their writing and communicate ideas otherwise constrained by gaps in their knowledge (i.e., unknown words, nuanced language). The findings contribute to helping various education providers to devise equitable interventions to accommodate multilingual learners.