This paper reports on and discusses adaptations and strategies in teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP) on a postgraduate course in Management and Storage of Digital Documents at the University of Calabria. Since inauguration of the course in 2016, changes have taken place in the teaching situation, from a blended-learning centered approach in the pre Covid-19 period using the PerLE digital platform, to the fully online experience during lockdown, necessitating concomitant employment of Microsoft Teams for synchronous online lessons. As we return tentatively to the classroom, experience of lesson dynamics during the pandemic and responses to student feedback have led to adaptations in teaching strategies to exploit the lessons learned from the solely digital experience. These seek both to account for student perceptions and affect (i.e., the emotional and personal impact of this form of participation and engagement with technological tools), and to recognize the constraints and take advantage of the affordances occasioned using the digital medium for learning. Our endeavour is to propose a communicative language learning experience, both in the uniquely digital environment when occasion requires, and in the more traditional classroom with blended learning support. Another important consideration, in this case, is that course materials hosted in a Moodle on the PerLE platform are designed to promote learner autonomy, given that the course does not require attendance for students not resident in the same region as the university, and therefore must cater for independent study and completion of required tasks and assignments using digital instruments. Student perceptions of the fully online learning experience and digital course content have been evaluated using a Satisfaction Survey and Focus Group encounters. Regarding student affect, we are concerned with the dynamics of interaction in synchronous online lessons, and how participation can be rendered stimulating and empowering for learners. Student feedback has shown that digital readiness and perception of belonging to a “community” of learning, as well as their academic motivation and engagement, can all be encouraged though the application of online language instruction that is carefully graded and paced, particularly to take account of the cognitive load of activities proposed. We are therefore engaged in developing strategies for synchronous online lesson delivery which adapt to the opportunities and problematics presented by the digital medium. We are also concerned with the promotion of a positive student perception of the entire digital offer, so to speak, since the learning experience, be it managed by the teacher, or engaged with autonomously, must respond to specific requirements of pertinence and interest of content, ease of technical engagement, and profitable use of time. The approaches adopted therefore include synchronous lesson time modeling of tasks and language aspects which are mirrored with support elements in the Moodle, and task-based learning activities which emphasize student-to-student interaction. More ambitious and demanding project-based learning assignments regarding the real working environment of the profession of Document management are part of course-long activity. Students are encouraged to focus on longer tasks in a self-paced manner, taking responsibility for their learning and collaboration with others.
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