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Friday, 2 May 2014

Big and little questions #ocTEL

I get the feeling that this cMOOC organised by ALT could be a good opportunity for me to reflect and engage with the wider learning technology community, learn new things and clarify my priorities as a new CMALT holder. The process will probably require writing a blog post every week for the next few weeks, that level of discipline is something I will be exploring but I make no promises that it will last. I don't think the wider world is ready to hear from me that often!

So what are my big and little questions relating to the use of technology enhanced learning? The main one is of course related to my research into computer-mediated communication and the technologies used to facilitate it. The context here has changed enormously in recent years. When I first wrote my M.A. dissertation and identified challenges in the adoption of voip for language teaching it was unusual for institutional computers to have sound cards at all. I was told that using headsets would be unhygienic and that speaking into a computer would be distracting for others. Now of course I regularly pass students sitting in corridors having skype chats from their laptops free from wired internet connections and institutional machines, or overhear snippets of their conversations on mobile phones as they stand in the queue at the cafĂ©. My son's generation (he's 20 btw) are always interacting through some gadget or another, by voice, text, exchanging images and sharing youtube clips. 

The big question? When are educators (particularly language educators) going to accept that CMC is a vital area of investigation which has direct relevance to our young people? Not just a curiosity to be dismissed by those who are "not into computers" but a vital realm already inhabited by others. 

The little questions - which are as important to the growth of CMC include:

  • how do we share the existing growing body of knowledge around engagement in CMC?
  • how do we mainstream the many great ideas for CMC which could help to address so many issues such as student mobility, transversal skills acquisition, intercultural awareness, the need for constant CPD for educators?
  • how do we ensure that technical infrastructures provided by institutions give best value by prioritising effective ways of supporting CMC? 

Looking at the questions here, maybe they are not so little but I do at least have some directions and clues for answering some of these. If you are also interested in these questions please connect with me in the #ocTEL site or through twitter @warwicklanguage
and maybe together we can make a difference?

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