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Videoconferencing and the networked provision of language programs in regional and rural schools

  • Yvette Slaughter (a1), Wally Smith (a2) and John Hajek (a3)


The use of videoconferencing technology to support the delivery of language programs shows great potential in regional and rural settings where a lack of access to specialist teachers limits equitable access to education. In this article, we investigate the establishment of two regional and rural primary school networks in Australia for videoconferenced language learning. Adopting a perspective taken from the discipline of information systems called structuration theory, we examine how the technology they use both changes and is changed by its use in language learning, and how schools and teachers take control of technology and adapt their educational approaches. Case studies were carried out on the two networks using multiple data sources, including interviews and observation of language classes. The findings reveal that even with the same conceptual foundations and aims, divergent models of practice emerge as sustainable adaptations to localised factors. These differences are shaped by, among other things, an interplay between the quality of infrastructure, prior knowledge, and the “material properties” of the technology, including its functions, limits, and deployment in physical space. A closer look at these practices illustrates limitations and possibilities specifically for language education, but also more broadly illustrates how the success of these videoconferencing initiatives are influenced by a nuanced combination of social, educational, and technological factors.



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