Scaling up data-driven learning: Taking instruction online


Scaling up data-driven learning: Taking instruction online

The use of corpora for the purposes of improving academic writing in the form of data-driven learning (DDL, Johns, 1991) is now thriving, as advances in computer/internet speed, corpus availability, user-friendly corpus query interfaces and data visualisation have come to the fore. However, the majority of studies in this area have been conducted in face-to-face classroom, teacher-led settings, and generally involving fewer than one hundred participants (Boulton & Cobb, 2017). To date, no study has explored DDL provision in an entirely online format (Crosthwaite, 2018).

This paper describes the design and implementation of a purpose-built short private online course (SPOC) on DDL for error correction in academic writing, rolled out to approximately 300 graduate students from 34 countries. The affordances of using a SPOC platform are discussed, namely EdX, for self-guided DDL training involving the BAWE corpus (Alsop & Nesi, 2009) within Sketch Engine Open, how DDL has been ‘sold’ to students as a viable method for improving academic writing, and how it has been implemented within the graduate curriculum.

A number of ‘challenges’ involved in using a SPOC for DDL are also described, including the constant need for ‘right’ answers to online-only DDL activities in what is supposedly a self-guided pedagogical approach, how corpus use can be maintained across activities by both L1 and L2 users, how to provide written corrective feedback suitable for DDL within a SPOC context, and new error correction strategies for errors that aren’t typically easy to solve with corpora.


  • Dr Peter Crosthwaite
    Dr Peter Crosthwaite, University of Queensland