Post by Brenda, Lily, Julie and Phoebe
Technology‐mediated Language teaching at distance is now geographically widespread around the world as a well-established means of extending access and opportunities to language learners in both public and private settings.
The feature of all forms of distance language teaching are that teachers and learners are physically separated, that “the bulk of the learning takes place in non‐co‐presence” (Lamy, 2013).
The Evolution of Distance Language Teaching
Distance language teaching has evolved largely in response to developments in technology (White, 2017).
Printed-based courses→→Educational radio and Broadcast television→→Computer technologies→→Interactive multimedia→→ Web 2.0 Environments→→ Second Life
Generational Models of Distance Language Teaching (White, 2006)
Elements in Distance Language Learning (White, 2017)
Blake (2009) reviewed technical applications for second language distance learning and found it important to reconsider current best teaching practices. The most important technologies tools and environments are the following elements:
Computer‐mediated communication (CMC) allows learners to get involved in collaborative learning environments, connect with peers, and develop a sense of community.
Audio graphic and videoconferencing environments
It is important to identify the skills teachers need and track learners for feedback.
Learning management systems (LMSs)
Doughty and Long (2003) criticized the large-scale commercialization of distance language courses. Those systems were not created for language learning and decreased opportunities to interact.
Telecollaboration brought language learners from different countries together for collaborative projects or cross-cultural communication.
Web 2.0 tools
Like blogs and wikis, with these tools, learners actively build their own version of the curriculum from the resources they obtained.
Enquiry into pedagogical innovation now focuses on task design, assessment of learning, and teacher expertise rather than teacher roles, functionalists of the environment or something else (White, 2017).
(1) Course design — lengthy, detailed process, ongoing attention to learning goals, assessment, rate of progress, opportunities for feedback on course work.
However, Lamy (2013) noted: “remote, isolated learners whose learning is impeded or halted by design issues cannot obtain immediate help, nor can the designers intervene swiftly to recast pedagogical orientations that have been explicitly described for the learners in the self‐study materials already released to them.”
Therefore, in order not to make learners confused or result in such negative impacts as learners’ loss of confidence brought by updating or revising a course through virtual learning environments, task design has become the new focus.
(2) Task Design — consideration on affordances of certain online tools, the needs and preferences of learners, the goals of specific learning events and opportunities to develop interactive competence.
Increasing focus: matching assessment to the kinds of interactive and collaborative opportunities integral to contemporary paradigms of distance language learning (White, 2017)
Focus extended: new complexities and specific constraints in relation to assessment (Wang& Chen, 2013)
Lamy and Goodfellow (1999) — Tutor Styles
Ernest, Heiser and Murphy (2013) — understanding distance teacher skills in different virtual settings in relation to specific task types
Sustained focus: how to encourage interaction and collaboration, how to maintain motivation and to ensure student retention and course completion
Critiques remain concerning the part technology plays and the quality of learning experiences learners obtain from distance-education programs (White, 2017).
1. The development and applicability of technology for distance learning largely rely on how the authorities perceive and promote distance-education programs (Asiimwe, Grönlund, Hatakka, 2017).
2. It can be observed that some distance-learning institutions deliver their online courses through non-interactive technologies only (Mouza, 2017).
3. It is difficult for either distance-learning institutions or learners to keep pace with ever-shifting technology. How well students can utilize technology for learning is critical for their success (Rajesh, 2003).
4. The lack of clear educational models and quality assurance mechanism may result in inappropriate study material and unqualified course designs, which largely discourages students from learning (Martey, 2004)
5. The quality of learning can be reduced if students do not have effective ways to communicate with lecturers or fail to find out promptly whether they make progress or not (Jackson, 2017).
1. What do you know about distance language learning? Do you think it is unique or it is only similar to other kinds of online language learning, such as apps on the cellphone?
2. One indispensable element of distance language learning is those relevant institutions. Can you give any suggestion on their quality assurance mechanism?
3. What educational strategies should distance-learning institutions adopt to raise learners’ studying enthusiasm?