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Saturday, 27 February 2010

Impact of ICT on Language Learning

The full title, as in the graphic should be, 'The Study on the Impact of ICT and New Media on Language Learning', recently published by the European Commission. The full document can be found here, or the executive summary here.

For me there are two major matters of concern: firstly as many will be aware, is the concern for the slow adoption of ICTs amongst many teachers. An extract from the conclusions is worth noting:

"Pedagogical applications do not keep pace with and are not integrated into technological innovation and change. Educators are often resistant to using technologies which do not reflect what they consider to be current pedagogical best practice. Programmes of professional development for teachers do not always encompass current technological developments. Teachers often feel daunted by the speed of technological development which may threaten their relationship with learners who may be more skilled.

The application of new technologies in learning implies fundamental changes for the role of the teacher. These changes are often not addressed in professional training programmes or in continuing professional development.

Practitioners on the ground, even at national level, are often not aware of existing resources and support streams. Professional formal and informal networks are not tasked with seeking funding for plans to incorporate ICT and new media to support language learning."
Obviously what applies to the teaching of languages equally applies to most other subject areas. When a report of this stature makes such statements is it not time that the teacher training institutions and those providing CPD made specific attempts to address this situation?

My second area of concern is more specific, that of the place of the e-Portfolio in addressing language learning in particular. I find it sad to note that although MP3 players are briefly mentioned, the role of the e-Portfolio in providing collaboration and peer-assessment or even 'expert-mentoring' is not mentioned. Such activities can easily and simply be addressed for language learning - and yet it appears that the authors of the report did not feel able to think 'outside of their box'.

If one considers the e-Portfolio to be a form of PLE (Personalised Learning Environment) then there is one final paragraph that hints at a solution but does not suggest how this may be accomplished:

"New technologies allow for increased learner control leading to the development of personalised learning environments (PLEs). The provision of appropriate resources, learning management systems and infrastructures to allow individuals to take control of their learning are generally not in place. "

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