The purpose of this study was to investigate the application of a computer mediated curriculum in the instruction of advanced written academic communication skills in a non-immersion situation. While previous studies have focused upon collaborative writing within a computer networked environment (Gregor & Cuskelfy 1994), the use of computer-tutorial programs (Warschauer, Turbee & Roberts 1996), or the additive effects of supplemental computer-based instruction (Chun 1994), the present study dealt with the implementation of a fully computer based EFL writing curriculum through the use of authentic electronic computer programs. The following research questions were posed at the outset of the study:
1. To what extent does the use of authentic tools, tasks and environment encourage communicative competence in the computer networked EFL academic writing classroom?
2. What is the effect of computer mediated instruction on teacher-student interaction, collaborative learning, and students' attitudes and motivation?
3. What are the benefits gained from a computer-assisted portfolio assessment?
The investigation design consisted of an experimental group which studied exclusively in the computerised lab and a control group which was taught in a regular classroom according to conventional teaching methods. Data collecting instruments comprised background and attitude questionnaires, on-site observations, informal interviews, and systematic evaluation and assessment. Findings indicate that authentic tools, tasks and environment are a strong motivating factor. While the compter-nelworked environment enhanced the teacher-student interaction, it diminished peer collaboration. Computer-assisted portfolio assessment appears to be advantageous to both the instructor and students.