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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?


Apr. 2nd, 2009 08:03 pm (UTC)
Overcoming the digital divide
Computer mediated distance learning is not a possibility for those without access to computers and the internet, so the question of what we can do as teachers seems more related to helping those students who are unfamiliar with using the technology (rather than addressing the larger issue of unavailability to some student populations). Its always good to know your students, so first a teacher would need to find out about the students' technology knowledge. Perhaps a software consultant could help devise basic tutorials that could be provided as helps. Certainly detailed instructions are very helpful (like the ones Dr. Sauro gives us in her Powerpoints and in our assignment guides). Also, perhaps teachers can start with tasks that are the easiest (in terms of computer use) and build on these. I think that students benefit both from learning the language and from building their computer skills.
Apr. 7th, 2009 03:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Overcoming the digital divide
You're definitely right. Distance learning is only possible for those with access. I guess some ways we can get access to those who do not have it would be fundraising, asking for donations or grants, and pushing for funding by teaching those in power the importance of technology. But you're right; these are larger issues. You mention some great ideas for helping students who are unfamiliar with the technology; I really like the consultant idea. Another great way to help those who need help with the technology, which Dr. Sauro has also implemented, is pair work. I know this has been a good way for me to become more familiar with some of the software and programs we have been using in class.


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