Sunday, December 13, 2009

Computer learning as culture learning.

I have been helping my wife study for her finals. She is in a college course : Methods of Teaching a foreign language. She was asked to read an interesting article about the role of culture learning in a language course. There were several major obstacles to effective culture learning:
  • Social Distance
  • Ethnocentrism and Identity
  • Negative Attitudes
  • Sliding Attitudes
As I read through this I was struck with the resonance this has with helping folks adopt Educational Technology.

Social Distance when learning a language is the concept that the greater distance the learner percieves between himself and the target culture the greater difficulty the learner will have relating to and adapting to the target culture and language. When teaching teachers about technology they often express the distance they feel from what students are doing. The archetypal question is: "Why would anyone want to ______" You fill in the blank: Twitter, blog, facebook, MMORPG or any other online activity. The article also pointed out that the closer the similarities between the target culture and the native culture. This may speak to the reason teachers easily adopt technologies that fit in with the paradigm they are used to. Presenting with PowerPoint is similar to presenting with Overhead Projectors. Using an Interactive Whiteboard is similar enough to using a whiteboard that teachers can adapt to it. But video editing is not similar to other things they are used to doing.

Ethnocentrism and Identity: There is a tendency amongst teachers to want to hold on to things the way they are. We are often trying to instill cultural values, traditions and information to our students. As we see culture that is different than ours we judge it as bad. We look at the changes to our traditions or the way things were and are anxious about where it is going. In educational technology this manifests as resistance to these new technologies. We don't adopt cell phones as a learning tool, because we see it as rude to interrupt class. We worry about cheating on tests instead of designing cheat proof performance assessements

Citation nod:
Mantle-Bromley, Corinne "Preparing Students for Meaningful Culture Learning." Foreign Language Annals 25.2 (1992): 117-27. ERIC. EBSCO. Web. 13 Dec. 2009.

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