The opportunities related to the application of digital solutions in Higher education language courses
The global higher education landscape is changing quickly and the use of digital resources as integration or as an alternative to classroom activities are key concepts of this process. As teachers, it is imperative for us to reflect and take a stand on the issue of teachers' use of digital tools and subsequent need for digital competence in higher education.
Within the discussion of the opportunities related to applying digital resources in teaching language for specific purposes (LSP), we first suggest exploring the pedagogical implications of the 2nd and 3rd perspectives of the ages of the Media in Education outlined by Rivoltella (2018), i.e.: media as an environment and media as a connective tissue.
As for the perspective of “media as environment” (Rivoltella 2018), resources as web portals, web communities, company intranets and social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram etc.) can serve as virtual “places” in which sharing contents and ideas is possible. This applies both to teachers/researchers/educators, who can share projects, methodologies and learning materials, and for learners, who can become part of a learning community.
This latter aspect ties in with the second perspective we mentioned, namely “media as a connective tissue” (Rivoltella 2018). We as teachers maintain that media lend themselves well to the aim of establishing communities of learners and communities of practice among teachers/researchers, given their nature of computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of information through the building of virtual networks. Some examples in this regard will be given in Section 3, in which this issue will be deepened.
As teachers we also suggest following the Council Recommendations of 22nd May 2018 on key competences for lifelong learning, that recognise the importance of promoting a variety of learning approaches and environments – including the adequate use of digital technologies – in education, training and learning settings.
Based on these considerations, a wide range of LSP teaching resources – such as web sites, MOOCs, podcasts, apps and social media – can be used nowadays as an integration or an alternative to classroom teaching within the current technology-based learning approaches.
In this regard, it is worth mentioning Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL), which is a subset of both e-learning and Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL), which is based on the use of handheld mobile devices. As for the benefits, CALL and, more specifically MALL, enable ubiquitous access to learning anytime, anywhere the user has reception and suiting multiple learning styles through the combination of text and multimedia. However, we as teachers should take into account the lack of standardisation (device compatibility problems of different operating systems, different versions of that operating system, screen sizes, battery life etc.) and the risk of reduced concentration due to the notifications that users may receive during a mobile learning session.
LSP teachers will consider all these implications, according to methodologies they choose, that vary from a more teacher-guided approach within the real or virtual classroom (e-learning and computer-assisted language learning, and b-learning) to a more spontaneous and autonomous approach, related to the ubiquitous use of electronic devices.
Yle Kielikoulu / Yle Language School
Yle Kielikoulu is a public broadcast service enabling Finnish L2 students to watch media contents subtitled for language learners. Subtitles are provided with the possibility to click on new words to get support translation in the language of learner’s choice. The service can be used in browser or in mobile application.
EU-Projekt MIG-KOMM-EU - Mehrsprachige interkulturelle Geschäftskommunikation für Europa
The blended learning course "Geschäftskommunikation" offers a rich digital learning environment for learners and teachers, while addressing all core competences of German language acquisition. Diversified (audiovisual) materials (interviews, lectures, cloze texts, etc.) allow for different learning styles and approaches.
The Research and Action Group on Language Learning (GRAAL) – University of Rome 3).
It is a task-based classroom teaching resource designed for Italian L2 medical students who have to undertake their internship in Italian hospitals. It aims to improve the understanding of linguistic input in the hospital context.
Council Recommendation of 22 May 2018 on key competences for lifelong learning
Official Journal of the European Union, C. 189/1-13.
The Council Recommendation covers a wide range of education and learning setting. It aims to support the right to quality and inclusive education and lifelong learning and ensures opportunities to develop key competences to learners.
Rivoltella, P. C.
(2018). The third age of the media. Research on Education and Media, 10(1), 1–2.
Availble at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331527737_The_third_age_of_the_media
This paper presents the “third age” of media: teachers/educators need to develop a new teaching culture based on hosting media in their activities and on creating continuity between their practices inside and outside the classroom.