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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. 31st, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC)
One example that sits clearly in my mind is when we were all in Second Life sitting around the fire place, or trying to sit down. Many of us did not know how to sit down on our mat, and this caused some problems initially. The initial issues that are resolved through some practice and association with the program cause some headaches and loss of time, but these can all be taken care of after familiarizing oneself with the different options being used.

I think some of the effects would be discouragement for the learner who has not crossed the digital divide. Frustration could also arise which would seem to cloud and delay the learning process. The learner cannot be too delayed or preoccupied with the understanding of the technology while not focusing on the assignment. The teacher or professor would need to be aware of some of these shortfalls and help bring those having trouble up to pace, much like Dr. Sauro does with the step-by-step instructions.

Instructions are always good, but being available for questions and conversations is also key. An open door policy, active email communication and office hours are important so problems associated with the digital divide can be addressed firsthand.

When distance learning takes place there is a lot of preparation that takes place. The participants need to be aware of each other online and need to have compatible technologies, which can only be addressed through communication. Distance learning is more active and can be very entertaining for students, but teachers need to be careful not to alienate any students needing some help working with the technology.

Apr. 7th, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC)
I agree with your comment. You mention some good examples of the effects of the digital divide and great ways teachers can overcome them. You are right. It takes a lot of preparation, but it also takes patience with those students who need help with the technology. Thanks, for your comment.


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