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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.