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									                                                                                                   Blended Learning Seminar
                                                                                                         Plenary discussion



Q: A major problem with the technological component in blended learning is that it fails to enable students to
practise their speaking skills. Do you agree?

Gavin Dudeney: I wouldn’t agree with that. For example, there is Skype and Microsoft Messenger that students
can use to practise their speaking skills.
I do recognise that these programmes have limitations, however. For example, the whole body language aspect
is lost. But the importance of body language will depend on the purpose of the English language lessons. Body
language many not be essential in business English in circumstances where a lot of the communication may be
by phone, etc., but is very important in a social context.

Piet Desmet: Some voicemail email systems and technological devises for speaking exist, but they are rather
expensive and not readily available. There is a lot of room for development in that field.

However, while I agree to an extent that ICT doesn’t have a great capacity for speaking practice, I see ICT as
an instrument useful for speaking preparation, not for speaking itself.


Q: When teachers use ICT in their teaching, evaluation is something that is particularly affected. When students
use ICT it is much more difficult to monitor what they are doing and to evaluate their progress. What are you
thoughts on this?

Koen Van Cauwenberge: Interactive exercises like Hot Potatoes [a computer language exercise Koen created]
should only be used to evaluate the learning process of the students and to help them with their learning, but
never for final marks as students can easily cheat. ICT should be primarily used for self-assessment by the
students so that they can monitor their own learning process. Nevertheless it is true that many students lack the
discipline to do so and that the new use of ICT in education demands a new tradition of evaluating our students.

Piet Desmet: It is perfectly possible today to follow, monitor and report what learners actually do via tracking
and logging, a feature which is available on a lot of Learning Management Systems (such as Blackboard,
Cognistreamer, Moodle etc.) and Authoring Tools (such as Idioma-tic). With this feature we assess learners by
means of ICT.

It should be borne in mind though that these systems are preferably used for formative assessment (as
indicators in a learning process) and not for summative assessment (to finish off a learning process). Today
holding exams through ICT is possible, but it requires the development of a protected environment, which is
expensive and not that simple from a technical point of view.

Apart from assessment through ICT it is, of course, perfectly possible to use ICT to do tasks and assignments
that are not assessed electronically. In that case the assignment is done by means of ICT, but not the
assessment. In such a case we keep close to a traditional way of assessing.


Q: Are we over-evaluating the use of ICT in English language teaching? From my experience, the use of
computers is harmful to valuable classroom time – we should use classroom time for peer interaction. What can
a computer do that a book cannot?

Johan Stobbe: I’ll agree with some of the question. Classroom time is very valuable indeed. That is exactly why
we opt for a blended approach. Regarding the use of computers more generally, there are so many
opportunities that it would be a shame to miss them. Today a lot of schools have taken out a subscription to an
electronic learning environment where teachers can post closed or half open exercises. You can also find plenty
of free resource materials on the Internet. I believe blended language learning in which classroom time is
combined with e-learning is here to stay.

On the other hand, I would also say that is time for English language teachers to ask for more help and
(financial) support. Teachers from other subjects certainly are!




         The United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.
Comment from Gavin Dudeney: I think that there’s a great necessity in integrating ICT in the language
classroom. Teachers must remember that nowadays computers are integral parts of the lives of our students.
When teachers prepare their lessons, they must take this into consideration. It’s important to combine teaching
with the student’s reality.

Comment from a teacher in the audience: What is important and has not been touched upon in this
conference is the fact that not all students learn in the same way. For some students, the use of ICT can help,
while for others, it may not. Teachers here should be reminded that some students learn better using their visual
sense, while some learn better using their auditory sense. Therefore, there is a great necessity for multi-sensory
teaching.




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