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With the development of information technology and its application to education, online ESL educational reform was initiated by the Ministry of Education in China, aiming at student centered and individualized ESL education in HE based on the application of information technology, network technology in particular. Studies have been conducted in this field yet there has been no in-depth study on how learners experience and understand online ESL education. In this study, the authors set out to investigate and depict Chinese higher education students' conceptions of online ESL education with a phenomenographic approach. Three conceptual categories have been identified from the analysis namely online autonomous learning, face-to-face lectures, and social relations in online settings. Impact of traditional Chinese educational system has also been discussed to give more insights into the analysis results. It is concluded that there is still a long way to go to achieve student centered learning and for a considerable period of time the hybrid learning style combining lectures and online learning will be a major educational style in Chinese ESL courses.
Date of Conference: 5-6 Dec. 2009