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Maria's WK 10 discussion prompt

Sanchez-Serano (2008) talks about the difficulties in distance learning, and some of us may have experienced some of these difficulties in our last class. Many of these problems dealt with the technology itself. However, Sanchez-Serano mentions a more ethical concern dealing with the digital divide, and asks how this divide affects distance learning, in particular foreign language teaching. So, my question is have you seen first hand the effects of the digital divide in distance learning - foreign language? If not what do you think are the effects? What are some ways teachers and/or ELLs can overcome the digital divide?


Mar. 29th, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)
Digital divide is a concept which takes place at three different but interwoven levels: one can speak of an economic divide (referring to the fact that certain parts of the population have substantially better opportunities to benefit from the new economy than other parts of the population; the fact that some people can't afford to buy a computer), the usability divide (the fact that technology remains so complicated that many people couldn't use a computer even if they got one for free, many others can use computers, but don't achieve the modern world's full benefits because most of the available services are too difficult for them to understand) and the empowerment divide (even if computers and the Internet were extraordinarily easy to use, not everybody would make full use of the opportunities that such technology affords).
There may be ways to bridge the digital divide that exists between technology haves and have-nots but the main focus should be on ways to provide effective language learning experiences in CALL classrooms regardless of the technologies available. As teachers, we should find ways to work around the divide created by the overemphasis on new technologies. Rather than lamenting the fact that our tools are not the latest and greatest, we must pay attention to using the tools at hand to students’ best advantage while we look for ways to obtain additional resources.
As technology "conquers" more and more "territory" in the educational field, there is an imperative need for us to keep up with technology and attempt to acquire a technological proficiency in order to give us a burst of freshness and "energy" in our language teaching classes for the purpose of conducting our lessons that extra mile in order to obtain a better linguistic achievement in our students. We should make us of all the divices we have available and if much technology is not at hand, we should try to substitute it. Distance learning is not an easy task to do especially because recently a more interactive approach has been made possible through instant communication (chat, discussion boards) than it was promoted in the past few years in distant learning(the way distant learning was conducted was mainly organized as a two-ways process- informational input by means of which students had access to the informaation that must be "read and digested" and then the "homework" and "written-testing" output by means of assignments, quizes, tests and exams). Distance learning should take into account many premises and potential outcomes: age and technological literacy level (because a poor technological proficiency in learners can minimize the focus on language and content instruction and redirect it much more towards the technological aspect of it). Planning the lesson ahead including all the technological instructuions regarding the computational features of the teaching-lesson delivery process is a must.
But the teacher can make the most of the lesson-delivery stage in the class by means of technology especially because that is the part when the students have the chance to get involved with the hands-on activities(with regard to the classic language lessons, not the distance learning).
Thank you for conidering my prompt.
Apr. 2nd, 2009 09:35 pm (UTC)
Thankyou for your comment. The three levels that you mention really puts things into perspective. I agree that there are many ways to overcome the digital divide in the classic language classroom, and that the best thing to do is make best of what you have to work with. However, I think that the digital divide can be problematic when trying to implement a distance learning activiy in a developing country where not everyone has access to technology. Are there ways to overcome this problem? I like the idea of pen pal mentioned above by loltauruslol. thanks for your comment.


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