Sunday, January 21, 2007

Benefits of using computers and technology in teaching: Focus on language teaching

The title of the talk might seem to be a bit general, but this is the title I was asked to address by a company called Senaco, who asked me to speak to its salesmen and technicians in Abu Dhabi today.

Here is the outline of the talk. I'll flesh it out in greater detail later.

I recorded the talk and have podcasted it at

SLIDE 1: The 20th Century as the “Read-Only” century

  • Lawrence Lessig: Stanford Law School, Stanford, CA & Founder of Creative Commons has said “The 20th century was the only read-only century in human history, totalitarian, centralizing, controlling. The 21st is the return to read-write.”

SLIDE 2: What does Read-Only mean?

  • Publication is controlled by elite
  • Greatest social transformation of the 20th century was radio, then television
  • Early learning models are top down: behaviorist, mastery learning, ‘sit and get’
  • Web 1.0 - Static web pages (essentially top down one-way flow of information)
  • Print medium dominant

SLIDE 3: Read-Write Society

SLIDE 4: 20th Century CALL Model

  • Shrink-wrapped, licensed, copywrited
  • Protection keys and CD Roms
  • Pre-packaged lessons
  • Lab management software (designed for surveillance and control)
  • Focus on computer


  • Creative commons, open source
  • Freely downloadable
  • Flexible, rewritable content, created by teachers and students
  • Courseware management systems
  • Computer is seamlessly integrated, so focus on pedagogy

SLIDE 6: Impact on market-place

  • Previously publishers sold content
  • Content is now free (service has value)
  • Means of creating content is also free
  • Market must take into consideration skills and expectations of digital natives
  • What succeeds in this market?
  • Spaces such as Second Life, My Space, Facebook, Open Source CMS and LMS
  • Delivery and Infrastructure

SLIDE 7: Tools for Language Learning

  • Digital storytelling (audacity)
  • Blogs, wikis (comments, interaction)
  • Podcasting
  • Skypecasting
  • Social Networking
  • Instant messaging
  • Language exchange

SLIDE 8: How can commercial vendors adapt and cope?

  • To be filled in during conversation with vendors

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