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Social networked game dynamics in web 2.0 language learning communities

This paper critically examines the role of game dynamics facilitated by social networks, and their potential for language learning and peer support. The context of investigation is made up of four types of web 2.0 language learning community. The design of game mechanics as incentives for digital activity across the community types is scrutinized in terms of the extent to which these mechanics support language learning, regarding learners’ roles, expected behaviours and attitudes to language learning. We situate our analysis in the broader web 2.0 context and link it to the crowdsourcing trend (Howe, 2006) whereby, as two sides of the same coin, user engagement is fostered in an unrestricted and collaborative manner, and the latent talent of the crowd can then be exploited by commercial companies for no remuneration. Our findings show that game mechanics model user activity by following a sophisticated incentive-centred approach, not always made clear to users before entering these communities. The analysis clearly demonstrates that game mechanics are the driving force of overall online activity, targeting language learning although not exclusively, and that game mechanics may benefit language learning as well as the commercial interests of these communities supported by web 2.0 start-ups.


Katerina Zourou    
Faculty of Technology
Sør-Trøndelag University College

Katerina is a Senior Researcher at the Sør-Trøndelag University College, Tronheim, Norway on network-based peer learning systems.
In the past she worked as post-doctoral researcher in the field of computer supported collaborative language learning at the University of Luxembourg (2008-2012) and at the University Stendhal Grenoble III (2006-2008).

Her research interests involve the role of computer tools in foreign language education as well as telecollaborative practices online.
She is the initiator and project leader of two European Commission funded projects, the network "Language learning and social media" (2010-2012) and the project "Improving Internet strategies and maximizing social media presence of LLP projects" (2012-2013).

Katerina is editor of books and journal special issues, as well as author of peer-reviewed articles and other scientific publications.

Marie-Noëlle Lamy    
Open University, UK
United Kingdom

Marie-Noëlle Lamy is Professor of Distance Language Learning at the Open University. She established a distance pedagogy for FFL via group tutorials on audiographic platforms in the 2000s, later rolled on to 6 other languages. Her research focuses on the semiotic and sociocultural dimensions of technological mediation.


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