An E-learning Ecosystem for Deaf Young Adult Learners’ English Literacy Attainment in India

Fan, Huhua (2019) An E-learning Ecosystem for Deaf Young Adult Learners’ English Literacy Attainment in India. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Overwhelming evidence indicates the unsatisfactory English literacy attainment of Deaf learners around the world, and this issue is especially pertinent in countries with few dedicated resources such as India. The interaction approach in Second Language Acquisition and the participatory approach for adults’ literacy attainment urge practitioners to increase learners’ interaction and participation as well as to place learners at the centre of learning. The increasing use of technologies in India and the shift from the Web 1.0 era to the Web 2.0 era in the global context afford new opportunities for Deaf learners.
Using a developmental perspective, this study investigates the primary outcomes of an innovative project, an e-learning platform entitled “Sign Language to English by the Deaf” (abbreviated as SLEND) and its context of delivery, attuned to Deaf young adult learners’ English literacy attainment in India. The study uncovers how an e-learning ecosystem in a low-resource context is conceptualised and constructed to foster interaction and participation, by looking into the design concept, learner experience and learning outcomes of the SLEND.
A thematic analysis is used to discover factors that emerged as the key characteristics of the SLEND and its context. These key characteristics and their sub-characteristics fall into three main components of an e-learning ecosystem: stakeholders, pedagogy 2.0 and Web 2.0 technology. Positive overall learner experience highlights the significance of the key characteristics of the SLEND and its context including catalysing power of real life English, comfortable and confident experience of using Indian Sign Language, peer-to-peer interaction and Web 2.0 social tool. Unsure learner experience indicates several areas ripe for further development, including SLEND access, multimedia materials and emergent syllabus mapped to the CEFR. Prompt responsive actions are taken such as using short in-class videos with English subtitles to facilitate learners’ understanding, dispersion of diversified topics with sufficient opportunities for output, and provision of instant support to Deaf learners for understanding Indian Sign Language varieties.
It is revealed that learners’ English literacy improves after the intervention, and long-term retention of learning testifies to the efficiency of the SLEND and its context of delivery. Further examination of differences in outcomes between the five learning centres used in the project suggests the professionalism of peer tutors and the provision of a relatively supportive technological environment.
The findings emerging from each sub research question stimulate and inform the evolution of the SLEND, and ultimately forge a guiding framework for an interactive and participatory e-learning ecosystem for Deaf young adult learners’ English literacy attainment in India. Some key characteristics of this e-learning ecosystem enable comprehensible input, interaction and output fundamental to language acquisition, while some facilitate a learner-centric approach in favour of learner participation and learning for a social change. Characteristics such as peer-to-peer interaction and learner content creation are indispensable for amplifying collective intelligence and crowdsourcing in low-resource contexts.

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