Collaborative learning & mixed-level classes : a case study in French

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In 2003 the University of Western Australia's Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences underwent a major restructure involving the move from eight-point units to six-point or 12-point units. In French Studies this points redistribution resulted in students being required to take at least two of these units over two years in order to complete a major in French. A distinguishing feature of these electives is that they are mixed level and may include students who have only completed one year of French at tertiary level (referred to as 'ex- beginners'). This article explores a recent innovation in computer- assisted collaborative learning called IdeaNet as one strategy to manage mixed-level classes. IdeaNet is a web-based application that allows students to work collaboratively in an asynchronous environment to build up resources and commentaries on set texts in a unit. A case study of a 2005 elective unit on Francophone African literature at UWA forms the backdrop of the article. While ex-beginners benefit from IdeaNet, non-beginners had reservations about the program. The author concludes that IdeaNet's success depends on a sensitive reworking of the traditional approach but offers great opportunities for an enhanced learning experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-23
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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