Wikis, iPods, and Cervantes (live-blogging from IALLT 2007)

Wikis, iPods, and Cervantes (Read Gilgen, UWisc)

Flashback: Hawaii 5-0, dubbed in French. HOT

Technology isn’t relegated to the geeks. Everyone can (and should) take advantage of them. Technology Enhanced Learning: emphasis on shift away from teacher-centric, to student-centric.

  • Homework & Tutorials:
    ~ online/electronic activities that replicate paper workbook. The most effective exercises, though, allow for interaction and immediate feedback. The possibilities aren’t limited to language learners, though. Podcasting: Das treffende Wort, a fun German podcast. The students have fun making it – that’s important if students are going to make and listen to these. A Spanish one: Personalidades de la Cultura Hispánic. Video materials / podcasts can be made easily mobile. When used correctly, some of the burden of learning (and extra work outside the classroom) is shifted to students.
  • Communication Skills:
    • online text messaging! writing, reading, grammar, and vocabulary all improved greatly with its use and students were more engaged in their classes. It can be hard to get a mobile classroom hooked up, though, so try to do it in a laptop.
    • voice chat: use Skype! or Gizmo, but a whole lot of people are on Skype. (Use Skype to randomly call hotel rooms in Mexico to inquire about rates? What a great idea.)
  • Collaborative Learning:
    – how to motivate and engage students in writing better compositions? then, working in groups to create video projects. Write script, correct it, rehearse, and videotape the results. now, it’s much easier to do that, and the finals results come out at a much higher quality. in addition, technology has provided a ton of new ways to challenge students. for example, using a wiki to collect pertinent information about smaller Italian cities. these are great activities for upper-level classes … the more successful examples have been with upper-level language and humanities courses, as opposed to science classes or even lower-level language classes. it’s not just for drilling vocab anymore!
  • Effective Classrooms:
    What are we trying to do as teachers? Excite, motivate, increase comprehension, provide cultural context. This has the potential to provide all of that, but it also will help in the shift from teacher- to student-centered learning.

What’s ahead?

In 1987, Sculley didn’t know anything about the internet. He was talking about Hypercard. The difference is access. It does the same thing, except it’s everywhere instead of only on one computer. “Overspecialzation can only lead to dead ends and stagnation. Students need to learn there is mo such thing as a smooth careeer path.” We need to teach them how to learn on their own, not just fill their heads with facts.

Read sez [and we’re holding him to these!]:

  • Content Databases: your ability to find materials in online repositories will increase. (Google images, Flickr, CC, etc)
  • Reusable Materials: repositories of teaching materials. MERLOT, for example. SCORM-standardized stuff
  • Changes in copyright law: The above will only work if it comes along with a change in copyright and fair use laws.
  • Mobility and miniaturization: stuff’s gonna get small. “It’s just a matter of physics.”
  • Voice (& other) recognition: will allow us to interface with devices such that we don’t have to type. Fingerprint recognition to pay for groceries, for example.
  • Integration of Technology
  • Evolution of the Teacher/Learner relationship: trend toward student-centered learning will continue.
  • Digital Divide: among professors in academia, it’s gonna increase. Students are learning differently that they did 20 years ago – we need to be ready for that.
  • Technology is not the answer to bad teaching, poor learning, boring lectures, etc. It can be a tool to make good teachers better.
  • The use of technology may have unintended consequences. What is virtual reality? What are we teaching students by encouraging them to hide behind anonymity in virtual worlds?
  • Technology does NOT save money. It /does/ allow us to motivate students in different ways, and can increase access to and diversity of materials. Why not think of technology as an investment?
  • Technology will not replace teachers … who use it. Is it worth it? Older teachers, those with more experience, and professors (not TAs) received higher scores on student satisfaction. It isn’t about being the newest or the best, it’s about being a good teacher. That said, we need to be willing to try new things, dump them if they’re not successful, and be persistent if we try them and they work.

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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