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Social media and language learning: (r)evolution?

Call for proposals for a special issue of ALSIC, edited by Françoise Demaizière and Katerina Zourou   Pour voir la version française.

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Special issue

1This special issue should strike a balance between techno-enthusiasm and technophobia. It will welcome contributions on the moving, unstable terrain that is now called by common consent "web 2.0" or “social web”. Indeed, there is a lack of consensus on defining the terrain itself. But it is moving and unstable because it is in perpetual motion. Ever since Tim O’Reilley was the first person to speak of web 2.0 in 2001, the debates have continued: economic, social, political and of course educational. The terrain is moving and elusive, in the final analysis, in the sense of the lack of benchmarks on its evolution. If we consider Gartner’s "hype cycle" to represent the degree of adoption and maturity of technologies for a social group​wiki/​Hype_cycle, what phase are we in and what are the challenges for the future?

2One thorny question concerns the definition of what we mean by social media, since consensus is far from established. For this special issue, we define social media as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, which allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content." (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010: 61). Web 2.0 will therefore be taken to mean the platform enabling social media to evolve, thanks to the possibility it gives users to create, distribute, share and manipulate different types of content, most of them publicly accessible.

3The types of social media covered by this special issue correspond to the eight categories of tools defined by Conole and Alevizou . The typology presented by the authors appears to be the most complete to date.

4The effects on collaborative processes and on language learning will be central to this issue that will examine how artifacts are taken into account and how their use may or may not lead to learning. The articles selected must therefore consider how language teaching / learning practices are or will be modified by social media. Are we seeing a simple evolution or a revolution? In this sense studies could also cover interaction, collaboratiive learning processes, stances in digital spaces as well as socialization practices, for instance.

Topics for discussion

5We particularly welcome abstracts for papers that address one or more of the questions below:

  1. Are the potential benefits of social media, reflected by their fundamental characteristics, i.e. horizontality, user-generated content and openness (Musser et al. 2007), really new in language learning? What is the essence of this novelty and what analytical frameworks does it refer to?

  2. What relationship is becoming established between web 2.0 artifacts and usages; how is this two-way relationship transforming practices, from a sociocultural point of view?

  3. Are their any indices leading to the conclusion that social media may lead to the creation a "new" learning paradigm (cf. Felix, Bax, Levy, Pegrum)? What is the essence of this novelty in epistemological terms?

  4. What about the different degrees of (non-) complementarity (parallel paths, paths that come together then divide, merge?) between formal and informal spheres of learning?

  5. How do Personal Learning Environments (PLEs), as aggregators of web 2.0 resources, call into question language learning practices?

  6. What is the role of social media in new learning times and spaces, aimed at lifelong learning?

  7. What effect could social media have on processes of collaborative language learning?

Expected contributions

6We welcome contributions in a variety of types including:

  1. case studies, descriptive or ethnographic;

  2. experimental research (with experimentation protocol and data analysis, social network analysis);

  3. action-research or research and development type of studies;

  4. position papers or critical studies;

  5. prospective studies.


7Text, images, videos.

Languages of publication

8Papers in English or French will be accepted.

Publication timeline

9January, 15, 2011: Submission deadline for abstracts (4,000 characters without spaces, to be sent to )

10March, 15, 2011: Invitation to authors to submit a manuscript

11September, 1st, 2011:  Submission deadline for manuscripts

12April, 15, 2012: Publication of the special issue

Scientific committee

  1. Maud Ciekanski, University Vincennes Saint-Denis Paris 8, FR

  2. Thierry Chanier, University Clermont-Ferrand, FR

  3. Graham Davies, Camsoft, UK

  4. Françoise Demaizière, University Paris 7-Diderot, FR

  5. Fred Dervin, University of Turku, FI

  6. Nina Bonderup Dohn, Institute of Business Communication and Information Science, DK

  7. Anne-Laure Foucher, University of Clermont-Ferrand, FR

  8. Jeannine Gerbault, University Michel de Montaigne-Bordeaux 3, FR

  9. Nicolas Guichon, University Lyon II, FR

  10. Sarah Guth, University of Padova, IT

  11. Francesca Helm, University of Padova, IT

  12. Agnes Kukulska Hulme, Open University, UK

  13. Marie-Noëlle Lamy, Open University, UK

  14. François Mangenot, University Stendhal- Grenoble 3, FR

  15. Christian Ollivier, University of La Réunion, FR

  16. Meei-Ling Liaw, National Taichung University, TW

  17. Charles Max, University of Luxembourg, LU

  18. Mark Peterson, Kyoto University, JP

  19. Glenn Stockwell, Waseda University, JP

  20. Peppi Taalas, University of Jyväskylä, FI

  21. Steven Thorne, University of Groningen, NL, & Portland State University, USA

  22. Katerina Zourou, University of Luxembourg, LU

13For other queries and guidance relating to the call please contact the Guest Editors:

15A selection of bibliographical resources used by the authors will be input to the shared library on the subject of language learning with the support of social media:​groups/​542561/​language-learning-social-media/​

16This special issue is part of the activities of the European network “Language learning: key dialogues” subsidised by the European Commission


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Conole, G. & Alevizou, P. (2010). A literature review of the use of Web 2.0 tools in Higher Education. Report commissioned by the Higher Education Academy.

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). "Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media". Business Horizons, vol. 53. pp. 59-68.

Musser, J., O’Reilley, T. & O’Reilley Radar Team. (2007). Web 2.0 principles and best practices. O’Reilley Radar.

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« Social media and language learning: (r)evolution? »Alsic [En ligne], Vol. 13 | 2010, mis en ligne le 01 décembre 2010, consulté le 30 janvier 2023. URL : ; DOI :

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