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Bridging the digital divide


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Bridging the Digital Divide:
New Media training strategies for language tutors

By Benoît Guilbaud

“Languages for the 21st century: Training, impact and influence” The Edge, University of Sheffield
1-2 September 2010

New technologies and Media Literacy are increasingly proving a prevalent aspect of every discipline and profession. Yet, discrepancies in their implementation and development are everywhere to be seen. In this paper, I propose to focus on specific strategies aiming at mending the existing gap between the ever-advancing learning technologies and the way they are really put into practice in language teaching in British Higher Education.

The development of new media literacy in language teaching faces a number of challenges and obstacles. I shall focus on one of the major obstacles which I have come across as a classroom practitioner: the disparities in accessing, understanding and using new technologies among both staff and students. The problem originates from a variety of sources: generational gap, social diversity, lack of financial or technical support, all recognised in Warschauer’s gradation-based redefined concept of digital divide (2002).

Focusing on academic and technical staff training, several solutions can be thought of in order to easily and affordably implement some of the latest recommendations made by the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Project in the Horizon Report 2010. These solutions will address the problems of workload distribution, human and financial resources allocation with a particular focus on balancing the ratio between hardware, software and human investments, as well as raising awareness of the importance of new media and its impact on independent learning personal development and employability.

These strategies are designed with quantifiable objectives in mind. They can rationalise costs and prevent technological resources from being misused or unused, thereby losing a large proportion of their economical value over time. They can also enhance learner autonomy and student employability, which are two measurable factors.

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Bridging the digital divide

  1. 1. Bridging the Digital Divide: New Media training strategies for language tutors Benoît Guilbaud
  2. 2. Digital Divide Social cleavage Information rich / poor
  3. 3. Content Language Education Literacy Community Social resources Warschauer, 2003 Digital Divide
  4. 4. out-dated still in use modern new Floppy discs Podcasting Video production Touch screen Cassettes CDs Screencasting Cloud computing Digital content Learning Technologies
  5. 5. out-dated still in use modern new Cassettes CDs Cloud computing Digital content Learning Technologies
  6. 6. Why bother?
  7. 7. Why use learning technologies in teaching? <ul><ul><li>-To recognise the importance of multi-modality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-To teach students using media they know </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-To deliver transferable, professional skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-To prepare students to engage with a society of participatory culture and collective intelligence </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. “ Computer literacy is the third life skill alongside numeracy and literacy.” DfES: 21st Century Skills, 2003 “ Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.” Horizon Report, New Media Consortium, 2010
  9. 9. How to ensure efficient delivery of New Media Literacy?
  10. 10. Warschauer, 2003 “ Literacy, like ICT access, involves a combination of devices, content, skills, understanding, and support in order to engage in meaningful […] practices.”
  11. 11. support understanding skills content devices
  12. 12. devices hardware + internet connection content software + teaching material skills training understanding practice + feedback support technical support + peer support
  13. 13. New Media Training Strategies for Language Tutors <ul><ul><li>Apply the principle of learning by doing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Deliver inclusive initial training session </li></ul><ul><li>Provide individual, in-class follow-up by a more experienced peer </li></ul><ul><li>Showcase examples of good practice via drop-in sessions </li></ul>
  14. 14. New Media Training Strategies for Language Tutors <ul><ul><li>Adapt budget allocation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>1/3 of budget for hardware, 2/3 for software and support ( Morino Institue, 2001 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Include peer support within staff workload </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure reliable and constant technical support and peer support to address the ‘affective barrier’ ( Goshtasbpour, 2009 ) </li></ul>
  15. 15. New Media Training Strategies for Language Tutors <ul><ul><li>Address the motivational barrier </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Do not rely solely on either extrinsic or instrinsic motivation </li></ul><ul><li>Provide common goals (e.g. on team-taught courses) to allow easy sharing of resources and peer support </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage self-regulated learning (SRL) processes </li></ul>
  16. 16. Any questions?
  17. 17. References Colvin Clark, R. & Mayer, R.E., 2008. E-learning and the science of instruction: proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning . 2 nd ed. San Francisco: Pfeiffer. Goshtasbpour, F., 2009. Barriers to EFL teachers’ uptake of instructional technology: a case study of an EFL section . M.A. Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University. Jenkins, H., 2006. Convergence culture: where old and new media collide . New York; London: New York University Press. Levin, T. & Wadmany, R., 2008. Teachers’ view on factors affecting effective integration of information technology in the classroom: developmental scenery . Jl. of Technology and Teacher Education 16(2), pp.233-263. Morino Institute (The), 2001. From access to outcomes: raising the aspirations for technology initiatives in low-income communities . [Online] The Morino Institute. Available at: [accessed 15 July 2010]. Reece, I. & Walker, S., 2006. Teaching, training & learning: a practical guide . 6 th ed. Sunderland: Business Education. Servon, L.J., 2002. Bridging the digital divide: Technology, community and public policy . Malden, MA; Oxford, England: Blackwell Publishing. Warschauer, M., 2003. Technology and social inclusion: rethinking the digital divide . Cambridge, Mass.; London, England: MIT Press.