Home | Background | Respondents | Discussion | Submit Question | Comments


Effectiveness of web vs. other forms of ICT

Background:  My main concern at present is the current unstoppable trend among CALL software developers to put everything on the Web rather than using a mix of Web-based and other ICT resources – as well as printed, audio and video materials in a variety of formats. I feel that the Web still has a long way to go before it catches up with what can already be done much more effectively on CD-ROM and on DVD-ROM/-Video. This is a classic example of technology driving – or rather restricting – the pedagogy. The Web is still inadequate for subject areas that require the development and assessment of performing skills such as speaking a language or playing a musical instrument. This is the line I take at the ICT4LT site in Section 3.1 of Module 2.3 at the ICT4LT site: http://www.ict4lt.org. Significantly, it is also the line that has been taken by the DIALANG diagnostic testing site at http://www.dialang.org, which offers testing materials geared towards the six CoE CEF levels – but only for reading, writing and listening. It is now acknowledged by many leading MFL/ICT experts (e.g. Uschi Felix) that the Web is currently only suitable for MFL teaching as part of a hybrid ICT package. See my article at: http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/coegdd1.htm – especially under the heading “Lesson No. 7”. See also my article at http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/needs.htm.

Research question:  How effective is the Web in fostering language skills compared to other forms of ICT?

Suggested methodology/comments:  The research would require a thorough investigation of the types of CALL materials that are currently available on the Web, followed by the exposure of at least four groups of students to (a) language teaching without an ICT element, (b) language teaching with a non-Web-based ICT element, (c) language teaching with a Web-based element, (d) language teaching with a hybrid ICT element.

A brief investigation that I carried out recently indicates that the Web is exceptionally weak in the following areas:

-         Prompted speaking activities, especially those that make use of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR). 
Open-input exercises in which the computer analyses the learner's input and offers relevant feedback and branching.
Imaginative simulations of the Who is Oscar Lake? or A la rencontre de Philippe variety.
Interactive exercises that make use of video, which often has a very tacky appearance on the Web compared to video on CD-ROM and DVD-ROM.

Contact: Graham Davies  graham@camsoftpartners.co.uk

Reader Comments: --

Post Comments