Here is an interesting interview from El País with Roger Schank titled “E-Learning is the same rubbish but in a different place” (http://tinyurl.com/ycapos9 the original is in Spanish but http://www.rogerschank.com/ will give you a good idea of what and how he thinks). The author is an expert in artificial intelligence and has some provocative ideas about education in general reflected in the title of his webpage: “There are two things wrong with the education system, what we teach and how we teach it”. Regardless of whether or not we agree with his thoughts I certainly think that the quote I used at the beginning of this post is relevant and reflective of much that involves technology and language teaching. In theory, technology offers what all language learners and teachers look for, genuine exposure and communication. At the same time, if you think of say flashcards or songs for example, two staples in an EFL classroom, technology makes both more colourful, easier to use but are we using either in a more innovative or interesting way than before? And do our use of them reflect any serious change in how and what we teach? In other words, technology provides us with resources but perhaps it will take a lot longer before it actually begins to shape or re-shape teaching and learning in itself. Meanwhile, we will continue to transfer our old cloze tests to Hot Potatoes and hope the experience is enriching … I know … being cynical 🙂
As a footnote to this post, search google or visit http://www.tesol-spain.org/convention2005/fanselow.htm for information on John Fanselow, another original thinker in Education. I had the pleasure of meeting and working briefly with him during the 2005 TESOL-SPAIN Convention.