Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [IATEFLComputer Sig] Re: e-learning Q

Expand Messages
  • Gavin Dudeney
    Jo, Clive, et al, ... I guess all the other people (like myself) who are working in e-learning and happily providing language solutions to people around the
    Message 1 of 10 , Jul 9, 2001
    • 0 Attachment
      Jo, Clive, et al,

      At 20:58 08/07/2001 +0100, you wrote:
      >Dear Clive
      >Would you care to elaborate on your claim that e-learning (the use of the
      >Internet for learning/teaching) is "all hype and no substance"? I'm
      >interested to know what your opinion is!

      I guess all the other people (like myself) who are working in e-learning
      and happily providing language solutions to people around the globe - as
      well as supporting and contributing to research into the field would all be
      happy to hear exactly how Clive justifies this crass statement.

      Then I can tell him about some of our students - perhaps the English
      teacher in South Korea, studying Advanced English online and doing
      tutorials using Microsoft Messenger - being excited and happy to talk to a
      native speaker for the first time in over five years. 'All hype and no
      substance'? Really, Clive...

      Gavin



      ******************************************************************
      Gavin Dudeney - EFL Webmaster & Net Developer
      eWEBs: educational WEB solutions - www.dudeney.com
      LTTECH List - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LTTECH/
      ******************************************************************
      www.ihes.com/bcn/ www.netlanguages.com
      ******************************************************************
    • Clive Newton
      I ll elaborate on it sometime this week. For now, I d just like to pick up on the expression language learning solution which Gavin uses. This is in fact
      Message 2 of 10 , Jul 9, 2001
      • 0 Attachment
        I'll elaborate on it sometime this week. For now, I'd just like to pick up
        on the expression 'language learning 'solution' which Gavin uses. This is
        in fact exactly what I mean. So we can solve the 'problem' of language
        learning can we? This is indeed a considerable claim to make given that
        most teachers and appplied linguists would a) not want to imply that
        language learning is a problem anyway and b)would not suggest they have an
        answer to it. The classroom has not ever really been described as a
        solution - and this is more honest I think. Of course various 'methods'
        have claimed to have the answer, and they have all fallen flat on their
        face. Admittedly each has contributed other useful ways of looking at
        learning (and e-learning will also be able to contribute something,
        particularly when its potential for practising authentic communication are
        more fully exploited) - but they have merely been added to the 'pot of
        eclecticism'. The extent to which they have 'solved' anything has been down
        to the extent to which students are motivated, engaged, involved both with
        the language and with others. Of course you could argue that 'solution'
        doesn't mean solution at all - and that it is an instance of language
        change. But whatever it means, it does suggest something finite - over and
        done with (Tescos have meal solutions, IBM have network solutions etc). So
        in effect the term perpetuates the notion of language-learning to be
        packaged, in a similar way to Thornbury's grammar Mcnuggets - but in fact
        even more explicitly. If you believe in language learning as a dynamic
        process, you cannot package it, hence the term 'solution' is hype.

        --On 09 July 2001 09:22 +0200 Gavin Dudeney <dudeney@...> wrote:

        > Jo, Clive, et al,
        >
        > At 20:58 08/07/2001 +0100, you wrote:
        >> Dear Clive
        >> Would you care to elaborate on your claim that e-learning (the use of the
        >> Internet for learning/teaching) is "all hype and no substance"? I'm
        >> interested to know what your opinion is!
        >
        > I guess all the other people (like myself) who are working in e-learning
        > and happily providing language solutions to people around the globe - as
        > well as supporting and contributing to research into the field would all
        > be happy to hear exactly how Clive justifies this crass statement.
        >
        > Then I can tell him about some of our students - perhaps the English
        > teacher in South Korea, studying Advanced English online and doing
        > tutorials using Microsoft Messenger - being excited and happy to talk to
        > a native speaker for the first time in over five years. 'All hype and no
        > substance'? Really, Clive...
        >
        > Gavin
        >
        >
        >
        > ******************************************************************
        > Gavin Dudeney - EFL Webmaster & Net Developer
        > eWEBs: educational WEB solutions - www.dudeney.com
        > LTTECH List - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LTTECH/
        > ******************************************************************
        > www.ihes.com/bcn/ www.netlanguages.com
        > ******************************************************************
        >
        >
        > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
        > IATEFLComputerSig-unsubscribe@egroups.com
        >
        >
        >
        > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        >
        >
      • Gavin Dudeney
        Right... ... So, pedantry then. The word solution is one of those modern words used to denote something which aids or assists in some way or another. If
        Message 3 of 10 , Jul 9, 2001
        • 0 Attachment
          Right...

          At 13:16 09/07/2001 +0100, you wrote:
          >I'll elaborate on it sometime this week. For now, I'd just like to pick up
          >on the expression 'language learning 'solution' which Gavin uses. This is
          >in fact exactly what I mean. So we can solve the 'problem' of language
          >learning can we? This is indeed a considerable claim to make given that

          So, pedantry then. The word 'solution' is one of those modern words used to
          denote something which aids or assists in some way or another. If Clive
          thinks there is a problem, then that's his err.... problem. Personally, I
          don't.

          Teachers in classrooms provide language learning solutions to people who
          need language for various reasons. The word is singularly unimportant.
          Where I work, we provide an online solution to the demand for quality
          language teaching. We do this by providing flexible language courses backed
          up with trained and experienced tutors. The only difference between us and
          a traditional classroom solution is that we are open 24/7 and we have
          adapted the pedagogy honed over years as part of a large international
          organisation to the pace of modern life and to the most important advance
          in content delivery ever seen (barring the introduction of the printed book
          a while ago).


          >the language and with others. Of course you could argue that 'solution'
          >doesn't mean solution at all - and that it is an instance of language
          >change. But whatever it means, it does suggest something finite - over and
          >done with (Tescos have meal solutions, IBM have network solutions etc). So
          >in effect the term perpetuates the notion of language-learning to be
          >packaged, in a similar way to Thornbury's grammar Mcnuggets - but in fact
          >even more explicitly. If you believe in language learning as a dynamic
          >process, you cannot package it, hence the term 'solution' is hype.


          Yes, I would argue that - see above. Language evolves, communication media
          have also evolved - the Internet is a part of lots of peoples' lives
          (something which textbooks and dictionaries have never managed to achieve)
          and as such is a natural medium for language learning 'solutions'.

          The learned Mr Thornbury is the head of the writing team for the company
          where I work and as such is one of the most highly-qualified people to be
          working in the field - a man with years of experience in teacher training,
          teaching and materials development.

          The fact that we (along with a few other companies) have managed to make a
          good working language teaching system which exploits the Internet seems to
          rile or upset people for no apparent reason. One wonders why? Do they feel
          threatened? Are they a bit sore that they didn't get involved? So sore that
          they merely label it as all hype and no content when they haven't even seen
          (specifically) the products they so blithely denigrate?

          I think we should be told.

          Gavin




          ******************************************************************
          Gavin Dudeney - EFL Webmaster & Net Developer
          eWEBs: educational WEB solutions - www.dudeney.com
          LTTECH List - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LTTECH/
          ******************************************************************
          www.ihes.com/bcn/ www.netlanguages.com
          ******************************************************************
        • Clive Newton
          ... I don t think it s pedantry. Of course it s unlikely that anyone interested in marketing an e-product would view the word in this way anyway - it s not in
          Message 4 of 10 , Jul 9, 2001
          • 0 Attachment
            >
            > So, pedantry then. The word 'solution' is one of those modern words used
            > to denote something which aids or assists in some way or another. If
            > Clive thinks there is a problem, then that's his err.... problem.
            > Personally, I don't.

            I don't think it's pedantry. Of course it's unlikely that anyone interested
            in marketing an e-product would view the word in this way anyway - it's not
            in their interest to. They look at the world thru 'e-learning-coloured
            spectacles'.
            >
            > Teachers in classrooms provide language learning solutions to people who
            > need language for various reasons. The word is singularly unimportant.

            So - just to prove a point, the word is attached to 'classroom'. I must
            start telling my students I'm going to give them a solution.

            > Where I work, we provide an online solution to the demand for quality
            > language teaching. We do this by providing flexible language courses
            > backed up with trained and experienced tutors. The only difference
            > between us and a traditional classroom solution is that we are open 24/7
            > and we have adapted the pedagogy honed over years as part of a large
            > international organisation to the pace of modern life and to the most
            > important advance in content delivery ever seen (barring the
            > introduction of the printed book a while ago).

            So the only difference is adapted pedagogy and 24/7? What about physical
            movement, touching, smelling, liking, disliking, walking to the school,
            meeting up afterwards for a few beers?

            Of course there is a place for using computers for learning English. We can
            teach students Internet researching skills, we can present new language
            through authentic websites, we can engage in building websites or doing
            PowerPoint Presentations as a project product, we can engage them in
            e-simulations using yahoo chat or asyncronously through email. These are
            all eminently doable. Their value is that they are message-focused in the
            TBL tradition where new language can arise from the message. They are
            geared towards Warschauer's notions of new literacies and new gentres. What
            could be better than to use standard authentic applications to get Ss to
            practise using them in English - thereby acquiring both the vocational
            skill know-how and enhanced English?

            You see, what we are doing now is fantastic. It's like a role play. I
            posted up a provocative statement and look at all the language it's
            generating. The thing is, you don't need an 'e-learning solution' to do
            this. You just need a teacher with a few ideas and access to Yahoo. Of
            course this is no use to the many virtual schools, because a) they can't
            market it (they don't own it), and b) thy need a teacher who knows their
            students sufficently well to establish topics of interest, to set down
            established parameters, a forum for personal reflection, a forum for
            rehearsal and more. You might be able to create, say, a website, on line as
            a result of distant contributors but it would be immensely hard to manage.
            And what would be the point when you could do it more efficiently with your
            own physical class?. (Though no doubt some high flyer somewhere does it
            everyday with their distance students: one student in HK, one in Brasil,
            one in the US and one in Germany!). The problem for most Virtual Schools:
            Global English, Englishtown, Bell Online, Q2learn, - is that most of their
            tasks are not communication focussed. They are language focussed. Some are,
            but as far as I am aware they are there with online tutors to teach the
            language - and this sometimes leads their tutors into developing more
            personal relationships with their students. Seems nice. Interesting to know
            what their profit and loss account is like.

            Most students (esp. in state sector)are vaguely motivated. They're not
            really sure about why they are learning English and are thus not motivated
            by the English per se. Hence their staying power on an e-course is not
            long, they don't come back to it because they want a teacher - or they drop
            out half-way through. Go on - prove me wrong somebody! And when you do -
            could you let me know:
            a) how many Ss enrolled on the course at the beginning of the year
            b) how many you have now
            c) how many came back from the previous year
            d) how many said they preferred it to the classroom (Sophie's Ss preferred
            chatting to conventional role play by the way - but they were still all
            together in the same computer room).

            >
            >> the language and with others. Of course you could argue that 'solution'
            >> doesn't mean solution at all - and that it is an instance of language
            >> change. But whatever it means, it does suggest something finite - over
            >> and done with (Tescos have meal solutions, IBM have network solutions
            >> etc). So in effect the term perpetuates the notion of language-learning
            >> to be packaged, in a similar way to Thornbury's grammar Mcnuggets - but
            >> in fact even more explicitly. If you believe in language learning as a
            >> dynamic process, you cannot package it, hence the term 'solution' is
            >> hype.
            >
            >
            > Yes, I would argue that - see above. Language evolves, communication
            > media have also evolved - the Internet is a part of lots of peoples'
            > lives (something which textbooks and dictionaries have never managed to
            > achieve) and as such is a natural medium for language learning
            > 'solutions'.
            >
            > The learned Mr Thornbury is the head of the writing team for the company
            > where I work and as such is one of the most highly-qualified people to be
            > working in the field - a man with years of experience in teacher
            > training, teaching and materials development.

            I know!
            >
            > The fact that we (along with a few other companies) have managed to make
            > a good working language teaching system which exploits the Internet
            > seems to rile or upset people for no apparent reason. One wonders why?
            > Do they feel threatened?

            Since when does 'hype and no subtance' = 'rile' or 'upset'?

            Are they a bit sore that they didn't get
            > involved? So sore that they merely label it as all hype and no content
            > when they haven't even seen (specifically) the products they so blithely
            > denigrate?

            Oh dear - this last paragraph is a bit of a pity. The 'hype and no
            substance' thing was directed a no person in particular - and came in
            response to an open question. Do we have to adopt this tone? In any case -
            please don't make assumptions. I worked for an e-learning company for
            nearly one year and got out of it - for the reasons I have suggested.
            >
            > I think we should be told.

            See above.
            >
            > Gavin
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > ******************************************************************
            > Gavin Dudeney - EFL Webmaster & Net Developer
            > eWEBs: educational WEB solutions - www.dudeney.com
            > LTTECH List - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LTTECH/
            > ******************************************************************
            > www.ihes.com/bcn/ www.netlanguages.com
            > ******************************************************************
            >
            >
            > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
            > IATEFLComputerSig-unsubscribe@egroups.com
            >
            >
            >
            > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            >
            >
          • Eric Baber
            ... I m not aware of any method that has fallen flat on its face by my interpretation of that phrase. For me, for a method to fall flat on its face would mean
            Message 5 of 10 , Jul 9, 2001
            • 0 Attachment
              Clive wrote:

              > I'll elaborate on it sometime this week. For now, I'd just like to pick up
              > on the expression 'language learning 'solution' which Gavin uses. This is
              > in fact exactly what I mean. So we can solve the 'problem' of language
              > learning can we? This is indeed a considerable claim to make given that
              > most teachers and appplied linguists would a) not want to imply that
              > language learning is a problem anyway and b)would not suggest they have an
              > answer to it. The classroom has not ever really been described as a
              > solution - and this is more honest I think. Of course various 'methods'
              > have claimed to have the answer, and they have all fallen flat on their
              > face.

              I'm not aware of any method that has fallen flat on its face by my
              interpretation of that phrase. For me, for a method to fall flat on its face
              would mean that it was completely discredited as being of no value
              whatsoever to anyone. Even the most far-out method I can think of has, no
              doubt, worked for some people and as such is of some value.

              > Admittedly each has contributed other useful ways of looking at
              > learning

              So they haven't fallen flat on their face then, have they.

              > (and e-learning will also be able to contribute something,
              > particularly when its potential for practising authentic communication are
              > more fully exploited)

              Why the use of "will" here, I wonder?

              > - but they have merely been added to the 'pot of
              > eclecticism'.

              Nought wrong with that in my books. I can't speak for Gavin, but I doubt
              most e-learning suppliers would argue that theirs is the only way any
              language-learner should learn a language. We for instance have teamed up
              with a face-to-face provider, since we acknowledge that most students will
              want to learn - and, probably, will learn more effectively - by combining
              online with face-to-face training. NetLanguages also offers combination
              courses as far as I am aware.

              These same arguments hold true for CALL, by the way - I doubt anyone would
              argue that a learner can learn a language solely from CD-ROMs, for instance.

              > The extent to which they have 'solved' anything has been down
              > to the extent to which students are motivated, engaged, involved both with
              > the language and with others. Of course you could argue that 'solution'
              > doesn't mean solution at all - and that it is an instance of language
              > change. But whatever it means, it does suggest something finite - over and
              > done with (Tescos have meal solutions, IBM have network solutions etc). So
              > in effect the term perpetuates the notion of language-learning to be
              > packaged, in a similar way to Thornbury's grammar Mcnuggets - but in fact
              > even more explicitly. If you believe in language learning as a dynamic
              > process, you cannot package it, hence the term 'solution' is hype.

              So you're saying that the terminology is being used incorrectly, rather than
              that the entire concept of e-learning is hype and therefore useless, is that
              correct?

              Eric




              Eric Baber
              London, England
              http://www.ericbaber.com
            • Eric Baber
              ... interested ... not ... I d say the same holds true of any marketing person anywhere - they will be convinced by the usefulness of their product, and will
              Message 6 of 10 , Jul 9, 2001
              • 0 Attachment
                Clive wrote:

                > I don't think it's pedantry. Of course it's unlikely that anyone
                interested
                > in marketing an e-product would view the word in this way anyway - it's
                not
                > in their interest to. They look at the world thru 'e-learning-coloured
                > spectacles'.

                I'd say the same holds true of any marketing person anywhere - they will be
                convinced by the usefulness of their product, and will try to sell it to as
                many people as possible. I don't think we're marketing people here on this
                list, and that we DO want to discuss the pros and cons; we're not trying to
                sell e-learning to anyone here on this list.

                > > Teachers in classrooms provide language learning solutions to people who
                > > need language for various reasons. The word is singularly unimportant.
                >
                > So - just to prove a point, the word is attached to 'classroom'. I must
                > start telling my students I'm going to give them a solution.

                Sure, go for it, why not.

                > > Where I work, we provide an online solution to the demand for quality
                > > language teaching. We do this by providing flexible language courses
                > > backed up with trained and experienced tutors. The only difference
                > > between us and a traditional classroom solution is that we are open
                24/7
                > > and we have adapted the pedagogy honed over years as part of a large
                > > international organisation to the pace of modern life and to the most
                > > important advance in content delivery ever seen (barring the
                > > introduction of the printed book a while ago).
                >
                > So the only difference is adapted pedagogy and 24/7? What about physical
                > movement, touching, smelling, liking, disliking, walking to the school,
                > meeting up afterwards for a few beers?

                What about it? Are you saying that these elements are absolutely necessary
                to learn a language? They're not, you know. For some language learners these
                might be vital - fine. But not for all. After all, if you sit at home and
                read a book, you learn something, right? Again - the "e" is just the medium,
                and it CAN convey information if used appropriately.

                > Of course there is a place for using computers for learning English. We
                can
                > teach students Internet researching skills, we can present new language
                > through authentic websites, we can engage in building websites or doing
                > PowerPoint Presentations as a project product, we can engage them in
                > e-simulations using yahoo chat or asyncronously through email.

                I would argue that you're approaching it from the wrong end: the aspects you
                list all hinge on the Internet as purely a means for conveying information
                which isn't directly aimed at language learners. Sure, Internet researching
                skills, building websites etc. etc. can be useful, but haven't you left out
                the aspect of using the Internet for imparting language-learning
                information? For example, I might e-mail a student an essay topic, they
                write it, and e-mail it back. I go through their assignment making
                suggestions/comments etc, and e-mail it back. That I would say is an
                excellent use of the Internet for language-teaching purposes, and one which
                is very much missing from your list.

                > These are
                > all eminently doable. Their value is that they are message-focused in the
                > TBL tradition where new language can arise from the message.

                Yes, that of course is a good way of utilising the Internet, but a limited
                one.

                > They are
                > geared towards Warschauer's notions of new literacies and new gentres.
                What
                > could be better than to use standard authentic applications to get Ss to
                > practise using them in English - thereby acquiring both the vocational
                > skill know-how and enhanced English?
                >
                > You see, what we are doing now is fantastic. It's like a role play. I
                > posted up a provocative statement and look at all the language it's
                > generating. The thing is, you don't need an 'e-learning solution' to do
                > this.

                Who said you did? Who said that e-learning was absolutely vital? I don't
                recall anyone saying that. Also,

                > You just need a teacher with a few ideas and access to Yahoo.

                Ermm... If the teacher then communicates with the student via Yahoo (though
                I'm not quite sure exactly what you mean by that), isn't that e-learning??

                > Of
                > course this is no use to the many virtual schools,

                What isn't of use to the many virtual schools?

                > because a) they can't
                > market it (they don't own it), and b) thy need a teacher who knows their
                > students sufficently well to establish topics of interest, to set down
                > established parameters, a forum for personal reflection, a forum for
                > rehearsal and more.

                Yes? Are you saying that virtual schools don't do that? Are you saying that
                virtual schools build themselves electronically, with no input and ongoing
                monitoring of teachers? I do know of some virtual schools that I would argue
                would benefit from BETTER teacher input, but all the good ones are very
                obviously built with a lot of teacher input.

                >You might be able to create, say, a website, on line as
                > a result of distant contributors but it would be immensely hard to manage.

                Define "immensely hard" - I would say it depends very much on the skill(s)
                of the person running such a website. Yet again in comes down to the skills
                of the people involved, rather than the medium itself.

                > And what would be the point when you could do it more efficiently with
                your
                > own physical class?.

                If you could do it more efficiently and effectively with your own physical
                class you're absolutely right, of course, there wouldn't be a point.
                However, that presupposes that all language learners are in fact in a
                class - and that just isn't the case, for a wide variety of reasons. Some
                learners travel frequently, so it's pointless for them to enrol in a class
                that takes place every Wednesday at 8pm because they'd probably miss half
                the lessons. Others life in a remote village which just doesn't have a
                language school. And so on.

                > (Though no doubt some high flyer somewhere does it
                > everyday with their distance students: one student in HK, one in Brasil,
                > one in the US and one in Germany!).

                "Highflyer"??!! As you know we do just what you are describing, and we are
                really, truly not highfliers. All of the software we utilise with our
                students are free, it's all very straightforward to use etc. etc. I would
                certainly not consider ourselves to be highflyers in the least.

                > The problem for most Virtual Schools:
                > Global English, Englishtown, Bell Online, Q2learn, - is that most of their
                > tasks are not communication focussed. They are language focussed.

                Once again you're confusing the medium with how it's being used. The
                Internet as such allows for complete communication - in writing (as we're
                doing now), speaking, the lot. If a virtual school decides to choose a
                language-focussed approach (which I personally think is kinda the point of a
                language school), then that's down to the fact that they've made a decision
                to use the Internet in that particular way. If you feel that there ought to
                be a virtual school offering communication-focussed instruction, and if you
                feel there's a market-gap there, how about setting one up?

                > Some are,
                > but as far as I am aware they are there with online tutors to teach the
                > language - and this sometimes leads their tutors into developing more
                > personal relationships with their students. Seems nice. Interesting to
                know
                > what their profit and loss account is like.
                > Most students (esp. in state sector)are vaguely motivated. They're not
                > really sure about why they are learning English and are thus not motivated
                > by the English per se. Hence their staying power on an e-course is not
                > long, they don't come back to it because they want a teacher - or they
                drop
                > out half-way through.

                Right - the curse of self-study only. The same has happened with
                "Teach-yourself-English-in-three-days" books and tapes. This is not a
                feature of e-learning, but of self-study learning.

                > Go on - prove me wrong somebody! And when you do -
                > could you let me know:
                > a) how many Ss enrolled on the course at the beginning of the year
                > b) how many you have now
                > c) how many came back from the previous year
                > d) how many said they preferred it to the classroom (Sophie's Ss preferred
                > chatting to conventional role play by the way - but they were still all
                > together in the same computer room).

                All of our online language teaching is done live; the completion rate is
                near 100%. We offer some other courses - non-live - as well, and those
                courses do have significantly lower completion rates (I would guess
                somewhere around the 50% mark, but I'd need to check properly). However,
                these are also significantly cheaper. So, it comes down to offering a
                student several options. And the 50% who DO complete their courses and have
                learned a lot by doing so at a vastly reduced cost have benefitted
                enormously I'd say - so who are we to lock them out completely, just because
                we don't achieve a 100% completion rate?

                >I worked for an e-learning company for
                > nearly one year and got out of it - for the reasons I have suggested.

                Didn't your company focus largely on non-Internet forms of learning -
                CD-ROMs and such? And I'm NOT trying to be clever, I'm just interested in
                your definition of e-learning.

                Cheers

                Eric




                Eric Baber
                London, England
                http://www.ericbaber.com
              • Vicki Hollett
                I think Clive has put his finger on something interesting when he questions the term solution . Things certainly sell better if they solve problems. eg. I m
                Message 7 of 10 , Jul 9, 2001
                • 0 Attachment
                  I think Clive has put his finger on something interesting when he questions
                  the term 'solution'. Things certainly sell better if they solve problems.
                  eg. I'm hungry and short of time, so I'll buy this Tesco ready-made meal .
                  I'm bored so I'll buy this entertaining toy. I need to communicate with my
                  foreign colleagues so I'll buy this business English course. I was
                  researching a market for a new textbook recently and until I'd identified a
                  problem to solve, I really couldn't see what the point of writing it was.
                  Learning English is a means to another end for most students, so most
                  language couse are marketed as a solution of sorts. So the question is: is
                  this justifiable?

                  Clive thought the term 'solution' suggested something finite - over and done
                  with. I agree, it has this ring to it. But at the same time, I wonder how
                  long anyone expects a solution to last in the ephemeral world in which we
                  live. How long will it take for a Tesco's ready-made meal customer not to
                  feel hungry again? How long do buyers really expect IBM's network solutions
                  to last? Clive, is that the real question on your mind? Or is the real
                  question that the term 'solution' might imply that a language course really
                  does solve a students' problems, when ultimately, that's down to the student
                  rather than the course?

                  Vicki Hollett
                • Clive Newton
                  --On 09 July 2001 22:29 -0400 Vicki Hollett ... BOTH OF THESE QUESTIONS HAND AROUND IN MY MIND. OF COURSE - THE SECOND ONE IS
                  Message 8 of 10 , Jul 10, 2001
                  • 0 Attachment
                    --On 09 July 2001 22:29 -0400 Vicki Hollett <VickiHollett@...>
                    wrote:

                    >
                    >
                    > I think Clive has put his finger on something interesting when he
                    > questions the term 'solution'. Things certainly sell better if they
                    > solve problems. eg. I'm hungry and short of time, so I'll buy this Tesco
                    > ready-made meal . I'm bored so I'll buy this entertaining toy. I need to
                    > communicate with my foreign colleagues so I'll buy this business English
                    > course. I was researching a market for a new textbook recently and until
                    > I'd identified a problem to solve, I really couldn't see what the point
                    > of writing it was. Learning English is a means to another end for most
                    > students, so most language couse are marketed as a solution of sorts. So
                    > the question is: is this justifiable?
                    >
                    > Clive thought the term 'solution' suggested something finite - over and
                    > done with. I agree, it has this ring to it. But at the same time, I
                    > wonder how long anyone expects a solution to last in the ephemeral world
                    > in which we live. How long will it take for a Tesco's ready-made meal
                    > customer not to feel hungry again? How long do buyers really expect IBM's
                    > network solutions to last? Clive, is that the real question on your mind?
                    > Or is the real question that the term 'solution' might imply that a
                    > language course really does solve a students' problems, when ultimately,
                    > that's down to the student rather than the course?
                    BOTH OF THESE QUESTIONS HAND AROUND IN MY MIND. OF COURSE - THE SECOND ONE
                    IS OPEN TO ANY LANGUAGE COURSE. THE FIRST ONE (DURABILITY) CHALLENGES THE
                    PURVEYORS OF WHATEVER NEW METHOD THEY ARE PROMOTING, IN THIS CASE
                    E-LEARNING (THERE ARE ISSUES OF DEFINITION HERE WHICH NEED TO BE CLARIFIED
                    - AS ERIC POINTS OUT)
                    >
                    > Vicki Hollett
                    >
                    > THANKS VICKI - FOR YOUR CALM AND REASONED TONE.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                    > IATEFLComputerSig-unsubscribe@egroups.com
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                    >
                    >
                  • Gavin Dudeney
                    Clive et al, ... It s a conspiracy! Bring back the good old textbook, the tired and jaded teachers, the linguaphone cassettes, Muzzy... I wonder why it s
                    Message 9 of 10 , Jul 10, 2001
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Clive et al,

                      At 17:23 09/07/2001 +0100, you wrote:
                      >I don't think it's pedantry. Of course it's unlikely that anyone interested
                      >in marketing an e-product would view the word in this way anyway - it's not
                      >in their interest to. They look at the world thru 'e-learning-coloured
                      >spectacles'.

                      It's a conspiracy! Bring back the good old textbook, the tired and jaded
                      teachers, the linguaphone cassettes, Muzzy... I wonder why it's considered
                      correct to claim that e-learning solutions providers (tongue still in cheek
                      here) have some kind of world domination secret agenda, re-defining
                      vocabulary to suit our nefarious purposes, etc. Are we like that?

                      Isn't language learning - all language learning - an industry, out to make
                      money as well as impart knowledge and skills (and I DO believe there is a
                      constant juggling act in lots of places between the commercial and the
                      pedagogical)? The fact that some of us do it via the internet shouldn't
                      really worry anybody at all. It's another delivery medium. Do we worry you
                      all so much (name that TV drama for ten extra points)?



                      >So - just to prove a point, the word is attached to 'classroom'. I must
                      >start telling my students I'm going to give them a solution.

                      In my definition of the word (shared by plenty of people) you are



                      >So the only difference is adapted pedagogy and 24/7? What about physical
                      >movement, touching, smelling, liking, disliking, walking to the school,
                      >meeting up afterwards for a few beers?

                      What about it? Ever heard of diversity? Do your smells (I restrain myself
                      from making a crass joke here), your touching and feeling attitude negate
                      what I do? Surely not? You argue for diversity in places (saying that
                      plenty of methods are valid to a point) yet you single out e-learning as an
                      all-that-glisters-is-not-gold approach to language learning. Why is this
                      worse than other methods (particularly madcap fringe approaches such as NLP)?


                      >You see, what we are doing now is fantastic. It's like a role play. I
                      >posted up a provocative statement and look at all the language it's

                      Isn't it? And we do it every day with our students...


                      >generating. The thing is, you don't need an 'e-learning solution' to do
                      >this. You just need a teacher with a few ideas and access to Yahoo. Of

                      I fail to see how a search engine can facilitate learning any more than a
                      telephone directory can


                      >course this is no use to the many virtual schools, because a) they can't
                      >market it (they don't own it), and b) thy need a teacher who knows their
                      >students sufficently well to establish topics of interest, to set down
                      >established parameters, a forum for personal reflection, a forum for
                      >rehearsal and more. You might be able to create, say, a website, on line as
                      >a result of distant contributors but it would be immensely hard to manage.

                      This is such a dubious claim. 'Might' doesn't really enter into it. I've
                      done it, others have too. It works


                      >And what would be the point when you could do it more efficiently with your
                      >own physical class?. (Though no doubt some high flyer somewhere does it
                      >everyday with their distance students: one student in HK, one in Brasil,
                      >one in the US and one in Germany!). The problem for most Virtual Schools:
                      >Global English, Englishtown, Bell Online, Q2learn, - is that most of their
                      >tasks are not communication focussed. They are language focussed. Some

                      Rot and double rot! High-flyers don't usually teach English for a start.
                      Secondly, not every teacher has access to a wetware class (that's human
                      beings to the old-fashioned - check position of tongue before going red in
                      the face) and not every person in the world can get to a physical class -
                      due to work or family constraints, or whatever. These people deserve to be
                      able to teach and to learn. That's where we come in.

                      I take it you've followed courses at all these online schools - in depth
                      research and all that. My company provides real human beings to tutor
                      students through the online courses, doing real-life speaking tasks,
                      communicative activities, lots of transactional email and speaking
                      activities related not simply to the material but to how it is delivered,
                      real-life situations, etc.


                      >but as far as I am aware they are there with online tutors to teach the
                      >language - and this sometimes leads their tutors into developing more
                      >personal relationships with their students. Seems nice. Interesting to know
                      >what their profit and loss account is like.

                      'sometimes' - viewed from what perspective? Wishy-washy claims like this do
                      nothing to further your point (which I feel could have been reasonable if
                      it hadn't been so black-and-white).

                      As for profit-and-loss accounts, you might be interested to know that after
                      supplying individual tutors to each and every one of our students, and
                      paying the tutors well, we are a dot com which is healthily in the black
                      and has been since four months of starting...

                      You'll also notice how carefully I'm speaking here - to avoid any claims of
                      advertising - but it is tricky...


                      >Most students (esp. in state sector)are vaguely motivated. They're not
                      >really sure about why they are learning English and are thus not motivated
                      >by the English per se. Hence their staying power on an e-course is not
                      >long, they don't come back to it because they want a teacher - or they drop

                      Agreed - but you're talking about students who would never consider signing
                      up for an Internet-based language course. Our market seems to be totally
                      different to the state sector students you're talking about. Our students
                      are get-up-and-go professionals with complicated lives and timetables -
                      they choose us precisely because they are strongly motivated, but need
                      flexibility.


                      >out half-way through. Go on - prove me wrong somebody! And when you do -
                      >could you let me know:
                      >a) how many Ss enrolled on the course at the beginning of the year

                      Again, a tad old-fashioned as a question - there is no beginning of the
                      year online.


                      >b) how many you have now
                      >c) how many came back from the previous year
                      >d) how many said they preferred it to the classroom (Sophie's Ss preferred
                      >chatting to conventional role play by the way - but they were still all
                      >together in the same computer room).

                      b) Over 100,000
                      c) Haven't got that far - although people are just starting to finish
                      courses and we have repeaters
                      d) all of them - they're intelligent and knew what they were signing up for



                      >Since when does 'hype and no subtance' = 'rile' or 'upset'?

                      Dunno - you tell me - you're the expert in meaning. But an attitude such as
                      this seems to suggest a real aversion or dislike or something and I am
                      merely interested to find out on what you base this opinion. I guess that's
                      all I'm asking. For every bad e-learning solution I can show you a jaded
                      teacher in the precious physical classroom who provide less input, less
                      meaningful practice, less communication, etc...


                      >Oh dear - this last paragraph is a bit of a pity. The 'hype and no
                      >substance' thing was directed a no person in particular - and came in
                      >response to an open question. Do we have to adopt this tone? In any case -
                      >please don't make assumptions. I worked for an e-learning company for
                      >nearly one year and got out of it - for the reasons I have suggested.

                      I don't feel personally attacked - I believe in what I'm doing, otherwise I
                      wouldn't be doing it. The tone is one of disbelief and a little confusion.
                      Maybe you merely worked for the wrong company - it's possible.

                      Gavin



                      ******************************************************************
                      Gavin Dudeney - EFL Webmaster & Net Developer
                      eWEBs: educational WEB solutions - www.dudeney.com
                      LTTECH List - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LTTECH/
                      ******************************************************************
                      www.ihes.com/bcn/ www.netlanguages.com
                      ******************************************************************
                    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.