Posts Tagged ‘technology’

The work of Dr. Marc Prensky is quite interesting in that it dwells on the main reason of the decline in education system, results of which most educators are compelled to face with, even without suspecting or realizing it. He asserts that it is the generation gap separating today’s students from their teachers and summarizes the main reason by stating that “Our students have changed dramatically. Today’s students are no longer the people our education system was designed to teach.”

He mentions that today’s students have not just altered their dressing style, slang or appearance, but a lot more has been changed, and  he exemplifies this change by a striking example of the amount of time spent on using technological devices compared to the time spent on reading books. He also  states that “ a big discontinuity has taken place” which he names as “singularity”, and it led to a new thinking pattern in which he means they think and process information differently from their predecessors including thinking fast, parallel thinking and multi-tasking. Furthermore, he even states that today’ generation’s brains are likely to be physically different because of the tremendous input they received while growing up. He calls this generation “Digital Natives”, a term used for people born in the digital era, and “Digital Immigrants” referring to those born and grew up in pre-computer era, and throughout the article he mentions the differences lying between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, and its consequences. 

Associating the situation with cultural migration, he asserts that it very unlikely that Digital Natives will go backwards in which the traditional educators feel comfortable and are talented at teaching; therefore, he advocates that we need to get used to the new thinking pattern and reconsider our teaching style by adapting our “methodology and content”. He suggests that teachers are compelled to communicate in the language and style of their students. However, it does not mean changing the meaning of what is important, but it means changing the way you teach accordingly. The second issue dealt with is content – “legacy content” and “future content”. The former includes reading, writing, arithmetic, logical thinking etc. On the other hand, the latter one includes software, hardware, robotics, genomics etc. and it also includes  ethics, politics, sociology, language, and other things that go with them which catch attention of today’s generation. When he mentions the former one, he dwells on that these skills are still quite important; however, some of them will vanish in time, and he underlines that it is the latter one calling today’s generation’s attention. At this point, he poses the critical question: how many Digital Immigrants are prepared to teach it?

Having stated that the year the writer wrote the article can be no coincidence, I definitely agree with Dr. Prensky that worldviews of “Digital Immigrants” and “Digital Natives” represents are so different. Additionally, it has consequences educators have to deal with, and it is the educators that need to bridge the gap between “them” and “us”. Hence, it is crucial to adapt not only the methodology but also the content accordingly to reach Digital Natives without changing the meaning of what is important.

Reviewed Article:

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.

http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf  

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This article is a state-of-the-art article about the use of technology in language learning and teaching with some commentaries of the author. In this article, the intended audience is researchers studying upon language learning and technology. Although some implications for teaching are also available in the article, those implications are about conducting an action research, particularly about the telecollaboration. There are some important points to consider before deciding to conduct a research by means of telecollaboration.

The aim of the article is to present the current controversies in the field of CALL and literature review of CALL with recommendations for teaching, research and further research. This article is composed of three sections – four controversies related to information and communication technologies, research findings, and implications for teaching and research. In the first section, the controversies are related to the status of CALL, theoretical grounding for technology based teaching and research, notions of effectiveness, and cultural neutrality of the computers. In the second section, research findings are categorized under three headings – computer mediated communication, electronic literacy and telecollaboration; and in the final section, the implications for teaching, research and further research are mentioned.

There is a section in the article asking “Should CALL still be called CALL?” on which I really think about in recent years. Actually, it is mentioned by Richard that computers are used very commonly in our daily lives and thus it should not be used as a separate device:

Given the high level of integration of digital technology in people’s everyday lives in many (but not all) parts of the world, Warschauer (1999a) has argued that the term computer-assisted language learning has outgrown its usefulness as a construct for teaching and research. The problem, Warschauer states, is that a CALL framework posits the computer as an “outside instrument rather than as part of the ecology of language use” (n.p.). While this may have been fine in the early days of CALL when computers were used to perform structural drills, it is no longer appropriate when online communication has become a normal part of daily life. For Warschauer, the use of computers should not be framed as a special case but rather as an integral aspect of language learning and language use (184-185).

As it is mentioned in the article, computers are integrated into our lives and we can not think of language learning and teaching without technology. Although we do not use them in our classes, we use them for our professional development, for developing personal learning network or just for searching for materials to use in the classroom. We talked about this issue with Vance Stevens a few weeks before and he said that another acronym is being used for this field nowadays: SMALL, which stands for Social Media Assisted Language Learning. This acronym fits quite well with what I have in my mind for the field. In recent years, I have always mentioned that CALL should be associated with communication, social networks and mostly collaboration. Computers are not tutors or teachers; they are just tools for communication, creating social networks and creating opportunities for our students.

Kern, R. (2006). Perspectives on technology in learning and teaching languages. TESOL Quarterly40(1), 183-210.

Warschauer, M. (1998). CALL vs. electronic literacy: Reconceiving technology in the language classroom. In Proceedings of the Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research Information Technology Research Forum. London: Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research.