Breathing a Second Life into the L2 Curriculum (live-blogging from IALLT 2007)

Breathing a Second Life into the L2 Curriculum: Google, Gaming, and Language Learning for the GNUbie (Douglas W. Canfield, UT-Knoxville)

A disconnect exists between the academy and what students are doing. How do we reach millenials?

By age 21, students will have spent tens of thousands of hours playing video games, sending emails, watching TV, and on their cell phones, but less than 5000 hours reading. So, it’s no wonder they don’t relate to textbooks. “Ancillary” or “supplemental” materials lack context and is, at best, inauthentic. But the textbook is still the driving force. [What about those languages that don’t -have- a reliable textbook? What have they been doing for the past few years? Maybe we can learn from their teaching styles / methods…]

Delivery truck method: are you going to eat shrimp from a store that doesn’t use a rrefrigerated truck? [Ew. No way.] Education is the same way – /how/ one delivers is as important as what one delivers. [Still not a big fan of lumping all of today’s students into one group. Yeah, it’s convenient, but I think that splitting up into ‘they’ and ‘we’ is a fundamentally flawed way of looking at the student-teacher dynamic, especially considering the really complex way students interact with technology and with each other.]

[We’re spending a lot of time talking about “The Millenial Mindset” and talking about how you could use YouTube to create assignments that students could then work on while they’re on their cell phones … but we’re not talking about the fact that students may have abandoned email and moved onto text messaging precisely –because– it’s not connected with their education. Who says we should be using iPhones for homework?]

Second Life: the world is what you make of it. You can customize everything, and you can use it even if you’re not a geek. [I would argue using second life makes you a geek. myself included.] There’s even a Teen Grid available, and Graham Stanley is working on language learning communities in the Teen Grid. Voice chat is on its way, too. And apparently you can integrate Moodle with it? San Jose State has a Sloodle area on their SL island. Other SL possibilities: Role Playing, study abroad / acclimation, virtual office hours or classrooms.

Ryan has been proudly maintaining and contributing to Language Lab Unleashed since 2005, and is the current President of SWALLT. Since the summer of 2013 he's been causing trouble with his all-star colleagues in the UMW DTLT; when not wrangling websites Ryan can be found doing strange things with heavy objects.

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  1. Doug Canfield · June 22, 2007 Reply

    I’m glad you liveblogged this…I can now edit myself somewhat…or seek clarification from someone younger than I am:

    At some point, I would like to see you develop your view of the student-teacher dynamic, because a massive body of scholarship gives us the picture of the world you describe, full of students interacting with technology and with each other in incredibly complex ways, and a different world of academia that is ostensibly oblivious to that world. How would you suggest that those of us in the World of the Ivory Tower wishing to build bridges to the World of the Silicone Chip using what we see as “technology” do so in a way that engages/invites/assimilates Millennials/Post-Millennials into the academy? I certainly see that as our intent, but when you suggest that, for example, students may have abandoned email and moved onto text messaging precisely –because– it’s not connected with their education, I hear you saying (I hope I’m not putting words in your mouth) that the more we try to bridge these worlds leveraging the technology students are using, the more we are potentially driving them into other technologies to, what, get away from us? Have a space that has nothing to do with formal pedagogy? (I’m scratching my head, having an RCA dog moment….)

    I agree with your argument that the simple us/them dichotomy is a facile one, but when you only have 40 minutes…..

    I spent too much time on YouTube. Mea culpa. But I think that’s OK, because I fear that if I had spent any more time on SL, I may have overwhelmed some of the audience, and that is the last thing I wanted to do.

    BTW, using SL doesn’t make you a geek…spending money in it and scripting in it does (that’s actually a little “übergeeky”)…like the three avatars in this clip:

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