The learning dialogue of university language students in a digital environment for online text annotations


The article discusses how an open access tool for collaborative online interaction ( can be used to enhance collaborative and individual actions of language awareness and critical multimodal awareness for groups of undergraduate and postgraduate university students of English as a foreign language. The research questions focus on how student online collaboration can contribute to (or hinder) the process of critical analysis of multimodal texts, and to what extent collaboration through a digital environment can promote learner autonomy and peer learning through shared discourse and online/offline actions. The digital environment which is the main digital context of interaction for the study is LearnWeb/CELL: CELL (Communicating in English for Language Learning) is a community hosted within the LearnWeb digital environment developed by the L3S Research Center at Leibniz University (Hanover, Germany) (Marenzi 2014) and it is customized as a collaborative environment for undergraduate and postgraduate language courses at the University of Udine (Italy). The LearnWeb developers have embedded an open access application for website annotation ( in the LearnWeb/CELL digital environment, so that it can be accessed and used by students and teachers. In the study we focus on the reflective learning dialogue that takes place between students when they analyze texts collaboratively. In general terms, this learning dialogue is usually rather elusive and difficult to capture because it happens informally outside the classroom. Our starting hypothesis was that the digital functionalities and affordances of in CELL would capture at least a part of that learning dialogue and, more specifically, they would record what the students decide to disclose and reveal through their online annotations. Within the limitations of a small-scale study, the paper discusses the students’ individual and collective process of reflection on multimodal text analysis. This use of the digital environment allows teachers, researchers and the whole class to ‘see’ the powerful effect of learning with peers and from peers while developing learning autonomy and exploring learning strategies.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v40p407

Keywords: language awareness; multimodal analysis; text annotations; learning dialogue; English FL


Ala-Mutka K. 2011, Mapping Digital Competence: Towards a Conceptual Understanding, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Sevilla. (17.6.2019).

Baldry A. 2005, A Multimodal approach to text studies in English, Palladino Editore, Campobasso.

Baldry A. 2011, Characterising Transitions in Identities in the Web: Multimodal Approaches and Methods, in Nicoletta Vasta et al. (eds.), Identities in Transition in the English-Speaking World, Forum, Udine, pp. 17-38.

Benson P. 2001, Teaching and Researching Autonomy in Language Learning, Longman, London.

Benson P. 2006, Autonomy in language teaching and learning, in “Language Teaching” 40, pp. 21-40.

Benson P. 2011, What’s new in autonomy?, in “The Language Teacher” 35 [4], pp. 15-18.

Benson P. 2013, Teaching and Researching Autonomy, Taylor & Francis, New York.

Bezemer J. and Kress G. 2016, Multimodality, Learning and Communication, Routledge, London.

Bhabha H.K. 1994, The location of culture, Routledge, New York.

Blommaert J. 2005, Discourse, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Boato I. 2018, Supporti digitali per lo sviluppo dell’autonomia nell’apprendimento linguistico dell’inglese accademico: il caso studio della piattaforma LearnWeb, Postgraduate dissertation for the Postgraduate degree in European and Extra-European Languages and Literatures, University of Udine, Udine (Italy).

Boud D., Cohen R. and Sampson J. 2014, Peer Learning in Higher Education: Learning from and with Each Other, Taylor and Francis, London and New York.

Cappellini M., Lewis T. and Rivens Mompean A. 2017, Learner Autonomy and Web 2.0, Equinox Publishing, Bristol.

Chanier T. and Lamy M.-N. 2017, Researching technology-mediated multimodal interaction, in Chapelle C.A. and Sauro S. (eds.), The Handbook of Technology in Second Language Teaching and Learning, Wiley-Blackwell, Malden, US, pp. 428-443.

Chapelle C.A. and Sauro S. (eds.) 2017, The Handbook of Technology and Second Language Teaching and Learning, Wiley Blackwell, Malden, US.

Cope B. and Kalantzis M. 2009a, A Grammar of Multimodality, in “The International Journal of Learning” 16 [2], pp. 361-425.

Cope B. and Kalantzis M. 2009b, ‘Multiliteracies’: New Literacies, New Learning, in “Pedagogies: An International Journal” 4 [3], pp. 164-195.

Cope B. and Kalantzis M. (eds.) 2000, Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures, Macmillan, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Cope B. and Kalantzis M. (eds.) 2015, A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Learning by Design, Palgrave, London.

Dooly M. 2011, Crossing the intercultural borders into 3rd space culture(s): implications for teacher education in the twenty-first century, in “Language and Intercultural Communication” 1 [4], pp. 319-337.

Dooly M. and O’Dowd R. 2012, Researching Online Interaction and Exchange: Theories, Methods and Challenges, Peter Lang, Bern.

Dudeney G., Hockly N. and Pegrum M. 2013, Digital Literacies. Research and Resources in language teaching, Routledge, London.

Fairclough N. 2003, Analysing Discourse, Routledge, London.

Fairclough N. 2006, Language and Globalization, Routledge, London.

Falchikov N. 2001, Learning together: Peer tutoring in higher education, Routledge Falmer, London.

Farr F., and Murray L. 2016, The Routledge Handbook of Language Learning and Technology, Routledge, New York.

Goatly A. and Hiradhar P. 2016, Critical Reading and Writing in the Digital Age, Routledge, London.

Greenhow C., Robelia B. and Hughes J. 2009, Learning, teaching, and scholarship in a digital age. Web 2.0 and classroom research: What path should we take now?, in “Educational Researcher” 38 [4], pp. 246-259.

Holec H. 1981, Autonomy in Foreign Language Learning, Pergamon, Oxford.

Jansson A. 2013, Mediatization and social space: Reconstructing mediatization for the transmedia age, in “Communication Theory” 23 [3], pp. 279-296., (5.6.2020).

Jones R. and Hafner C. 2012, Understanding Digital Literacies. A Practical Introduction, Routledge, London.

Kramsch C.1993, Context and Culture in Language Teaching, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Kress G. 2003, Literacy in the New Media Age, Routledge, London.

Kress G. 2010, Multimodality, Routledge, London.

Kukulska-Hulme A. and Viberg O. 2018, Mobile Collaborative Language Learning: State of the Art, in “British Journal of Educational Technology” 49 [2], pp. 207-218.

Little D. 1991, Learner Autonomy. 1: Definitions, Issues and Problems, Autentik, Dublin.

LearnWeb, (5.6.2020).

Marenzi I. 2014, Multiliteracies and e-learning2.0, Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main.

Miyake N. and Kirschner P.A. 2014, The social and interactive dimensions of collaborative learning, in Sawyer R.K. (ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, Cambridge University Press, New York, US, pp. 418-438.

Mooney A. and Evans B. 2015 (4th edition), Language, Society and Power. An Introduction, Routledge, London.

Motteram G. 2013, Innovations in learning technologies for English language teaching, British Council, London.

Murray G. 2014, Exploring the Social Dimensions of Autonomy in Language Learning, in Murray G. (ed.), Social Dimensions of Autonomy in Language Learning, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp, 3-11.

New London Group 1996, A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing social futures, in “Harvard Educational Review” 66 [1], pp. 60-92.

New London Group 2000, A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing social futures, in Cope B. and Kalantzis M. (eds.) Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures, Macmillan, Melbourne, VIC, Australia, pp.182-202.

O’Halloran K., Tan S. and Marissa K.L.E. 2017, Multimodal Analysis for Critical Thinking, in “Language, Media and Technology” 42 [2], pp. 147-170.

Rheingold H. 2012, Net Smart. How to Thrive Online, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Salvador G. 2018, Gli ambienti digitali per la promozione del peer learning e del peer tutoring in ambito accademico: il caso studio di LearnWeb, Postgraduate dissertation for the Postgraduate degree in European and Extra-European Languages and Literatures, University of Udine, Udine (Italy).

Scardamalia M. and Bereiter C. 2006, Knowledge Building: Theory, pedagogy and technology, in Sawyer K. (ed.), Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 97-118.

Stibbe A. 2015, Ecolinguistics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Unsworth L. 2001, Teaching Multiliteracies Across the Curriculum, Open University Press, Buckingham, Philadelphia.

Van Lier L. 2008, Agency in the Classroom, in Lantolf J. and Poehner M. (eds.), Sociocultural Theory and the Teaching of Second Languages, Equinox, London, pp. 163-186.

Full Text: pdf


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.