Online support systems for Extensive Reading: Managing the tension between autonomy and institutional education

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Dale Brown, Nanzan University



In recent years in Japan a number of online systemshave been developed to support extensive reading(ER)programmes. This paper discusses why so many similarsystems have been developed concurrently. It is suggestedthat the underlying reason concerns the tension between autonomy and institutional education. Extensive reading programmes provide considerable opportunities for the development of autonomy.Educational institutions, however, may beuncomfortable with autonomy, particularly with regards to the monitoring and evaluation of students. The various online support systems makemonitoring simple for teachers while imposing little on learners, and can thus help to resolve this tension. By helping to satisfy the demands of institutions, the systems allow ER practitioners to give learners the freedom to read independently. Online ER support systems may thus allow extensive reading to flourish within the constraints of institutional education.