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Language teaching in blended contexts
Charles Sturt University, Australia
Available online: 30 Apr 2012
To cite this article: Trisha Poole (2012): Language teaching in blended contexts, Distance Education, 33:1, 125-129 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2012.667964
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telephony.tandfonline. edited by M.Distance Education Vol. xx) but rather a starting point from which educators can then delve more deeply into areas of blended learning that are of more speciﬁc interest. The primary content of the book focuses on broadly investigating areas and methods of blended learning and teaching while providing considerations and examples from language teaching courses across various institutions and contexts. ISBN 978-1-906716-20-2 More than meets the blended eye Blended learning is of signiﬁcant interest in education and particularly in distance education because it further enables ﬂexible learning. Although technology in education is not new in itself and some institutions have been practicing “blended learning” for more than 15 years (Nicolson. Instead. May 2012. it also maintains ﬂexibility because each chapter. In the context of this book. Nicolson. L.. designing teaching and assessment in blended contexts. p. which is at the heart of distance education. & Southgate. and consequently ISSN 0158-7919 print/ISSN 1475-0198 online http://dx. Blended learning remains a constantly evolving concept as rapid developments in technologies continue to generate conceptualizations of how blended learning can look in different learning environments and how it can enable greater affordances in distance education.0 applications. xx + 279 pp.95 (paperback). It also provides a clear view of how blended learning environments enable greater opportunities for distance learners to access learning contexts in a more connected manner. and other means of connecting learners and teachers remotely.1080/01587919. blended learning is considered to be learning that is enhanced and facilitated by synchronous and asynchronous technologies including Web 2. 1. building reﬂective practice.. £18. Southgate.com Downloaded by [Trisha Poole] at 02:12 30 April 2012 . and cultivating professional development. The book Language Teaching in Blended Contexts attempts to bring a rational twenty-ﬁrst century focus to blended learning while not being too enamoured by the shiny new online tools that are becoming available. Thus.2012. 33. however. Dunedin Academic Press. and teaching. No. 2011.667964 http://www. The book is divided into ﬁve sections beginning with the basics of educational design and working through a simple learning and teaching cycle with examples: understanding the learning context. While Language Teaching in Blended Contexts has been written to be read as a cohesive text. the advancement and proliferation of social technologies have created new platforms through which these blended learning environments can be implemented.org/10. and M. 2011). The primary focus of the book is not to be “all things to all people” (Nicolson et al.doi. Murphy. it remains true to educational theory: it looks behind the brand and identiﬁes the underlying capacities and functions of technologies in order to provide a solid foundation for creating blended learning environments. the book does achieve its aim of providing a resource that collates teaching ideas for blended contexts. learning. 2011. Murphy. including methods of evaluating learning activities and tools for educational design. 125–129 BOOK REVIEW Language teaching in blended contexts. Edinburgh.
Thus. In this way. Each section also provides reﬂective analysis tools that can be used to assist in the design of learning and teaching environments. While the authors consider online conferencing tools in a separate chapter. while this may not be optimal for the authors and editors as it was not their intention. this text can be beneﬁcial not only to language teachers.g. it is easy to become lost in the concept of blended learning and to be immersed in the different approaches. The primary content of each section provides a great explanation of basic blended learning and teaching concepts with examples of it in action in language teaching. The content of each of these sections is aimed at providing foundational knowledge. the book offers opportunities to be creative and ﬂexible in its consumption. A unique feature of Language Teaching in Blended Contexts is the section on learning and teaching community and indigenous languages. in Chapter 8 when discussing teaching via telephone. it does allow the book to be more relevant to a wider audience. or who are beginning to consider blended contexts for language teaching. the fundamental concepts surrounding synchronous voice-based communication teaching methods are discussed in the one place and then in later sections they are cross-referenced and expanded on rather than repeating the same information. the underlying concept of voice conversations and methods of managing learning via telephone are investigated. lessons. and how these are distinguished from learning second and foreign languages. and reﬂection for both educators and learners. it also presents some clear considerations for the creation of effective blended learning and teaching experiences when teaching indigenous and community languages. Skype). however. and reﬂecting on the blended learning environment. with a particular focus on language learning and teaching environments. It provides ample templates and examples of blended learning activities.126 Book review section. A key strength of this book is its focus on the use of different modes of teaching and different technologies to create blended learning environments. but also to educators in general. albeit with a language teaching focus. the ideas and guidelines presented are sufﬁciently broad that they can be extrapolated to other voice-based communication methods such as online teleconferencing (e. An aspect that is consistently reiterated throughout the third section. paving the way for it to become a staple text in blended learning in general. which is a core message and theme that is propagated throughout the text. planning. Thus. clear descriptions and explanations of blended learning concepts. is autonomous. While the title and inherent intention of the book focus on language teaching in blended contexts. but it provides a solid foundation for educators and educational designers who are investigating blended learning contexts and concepts for the ﬁrst time. At times. which considers the planning. tools. Language Teaching in Blended Contexts has positioned itself as a text that is foundational for blended learning.. the real value of the book lies in the solid foundation that it provides for blended learning environments in general. At times. assessment. Thus. is the concept of core technologies. and technologies that are presented while forgetting that the focus is intended to be on the language teaching in these contexts. and examples of blended learning in action. implementing. For example. it appears to be only Downloaded by [Trisha Poole] at 02:12 30 April 2012 . While this section has a considerable focus on the differences in the learners and teaching methods between these two types of language teaching. the text appears elementary. This section presents a different view of language teaching and it becomes quite specialized.
A positive note about the use and integration of anecdotes and other sources is that it does not create a heavy theoretical book. but rather provides an accessible way for the . learning experiences. and methods to encourage reﬂective practitioners who can then become leaders within their context. professional development. and it is essential that teachers learn to become self-sufﬁcient in the methods of blended learning and teaching. the majority of this section revolves around general teacher development and methods to encourage teacher interactions in blended environments to reﬂect the environments that they wish to create in their own classes. concepts. teaching methods. and real teachers. the authors of these two chapters provide a sound foundation for community and indigenous language teaching in blended contexts and provide sufﬁcient sources for further information. in many ways. Thus. which can be used extensively in distance education contexts. both literally and metaphorically. This book provides a ﬁrst step into blended learning for language contexts. with an increasing number of skills needed at their ﬁngertips. A consistent feature of Language Teaching in Blended Contexts is the integration of classroom anecdotes and empirical research to support the statements. it is certainly the case that teachers in blended contexts will be required to become resourceful professionals. and practices that are presented for effective blended learning and teaching practices. There is a strong emphasis on engaging teachers in their own professional development in terms of deciding directions. where blends are likely to become more rather than less complex. and other inﬂuencing factors that will affect the choices of blended learning tools and approaches. the anecdotes emphasize that these methods come from real blended learning contexts with real learners. these ﬁnal chapters and comments can be used well outside of language teaching contexts and can provide a basic overview of reﬂective practice. The ﬁnal section of the book paints a broad view of teacher professional development to support blended learning and teaching environments. While the references provide additional support and validity to the content. Heiser. real issues. 245) This closing statement in chapter 16 clearly demonstrates the view that is held by the contributors and editors of the book: blended learning and teaching contexts are becoming imperative in modern education and learning systems. An additional positive aspect of this section is that it provides a comprehensive overview of the factors that are involved in planning for effective language teaching. theories. Nevertheless. While there are some references to language teaching.Distance Education 127 Downloaded by [Trisha Poole] at 02:12 30 April 2012 a brief overview of a very complex issue that cannot be adequately addressed in two chapters. or other similarly niche areas. researching further avenues for development. and becoming mentors for others. cultures. so it builds on the overall image of the book being an introductory guide to considerations of creating blended contexts for language teaching. Therefore. learning styles. As Gallardo. (p. these two chapters bring together the ﬁrst three sections of the book into a cohesive design process framework that can be extrapolated to the learning and teaching of other languages. and Nicolson (2011) stated: As the … teaching world gets to grips with the age of diversity and increased digital literacy. and a solid accessible resource for teachers in general who are beginning their own forays into blended learning designs. starting with a comprehensive contextualization of the types of learners.
2009) or clear strategies founded in theoretical models for the effective integration of the pedagogy. Yahya. American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education— Committee on Technology & Innovation. NY: Routledge. Koehler and Mishra. & Zhao. The TPACK model provides for the integration of technology. these anecdotes and references provide avenues for readers to continue to explore the concepts presented. countries.g. and technology within learning environments is perhaps the weakest point of the book. In contemporary educational contexts. this lowering means that the book is more accessible to a broader audience. & Yadav. This book can be considered a great text for introducing the concept of blended learning with a speciﬁc emphasis on language teaching. who are considered eminent theorists in terms of embedding technology into education (e. it does provide a substantial list of sources for the reader to investigate. and situations. However. It is written for preservice teachers and experienced teachers alike. pedagogy. Language Teaching in Blended Contexts can be a great core text for understanding blended learning and teaching environments. New York. Moreover. content. and the book itself adds to the literature on integrating technology in education. as a result of the foundational content of the book. Furthermore. 2007. (2008). The book is not overtly explicit about its readership.128 Book review practice to interact with the theory while allowing greater connections to real-world scenarios. While the omission of these frameworks has lowered the theoretical density of the text. Koehler & Mishra. but it is written in a manner and style that encourages language teachers and educators of all backgrounds to engage with the content. However. The forethought to create such an accessible book will ensure its use across different contexts. & Koehler. the veneer of language teaching might cause it to undersell itself to mainstream educators as it has great value for investigating and developing more generic blended learning contexts as well. Koehler.. other than language teachers.. The ease with which the anecdotes and references have been embedded within the text and structured around the topics affords readers the opportunity to connect on a more personal level with the practices and simultaneously bridge practice to the theory. speciﬁcally language education. 2009. Handbook of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) for educators. There are numerous well-known researchers in educational technology and language acquisition cited. Koehler. Mishra. Schmidt et al. the integration of these three aspects of knowledge for learning and teaching is essential when considering blended situations and the effective use of technologies to enhance learning experiences. 2008. the noticeable omission of the Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) model (Harris. 2004. 2009). Mishra. it can be used as a ﬁrst point of reference for blended learning by educational designers and those involved in higher levels of learning design as well as classroom teachers. References American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education—Committee on Technology and Innovation. Downloaded by [Trisha Poole] at 02:12 30 April 2012 . and content knowledge that acknowledges and balances all three aspects within the learning and teaching design and processes. 2009. as well as native and non-native speakers of English. While this book is not dense with theory. Mishra. Furthermore. one notable deﬁciency on the list is the work of Mishra and Koehler.
iste. NC: Information Age.. Nicolson. Mishra.. Murphy. & Yadav. In M. P. Murphy. Retrieved from http://www. Trisha Poole .. Ferdig et al. Baran.aspx Koehler. J. P.. A. (2009). (2007). Koehler. Language teaching in blended contexts. M. Practical approaches for teacher development.. M. P. Chesapeake. M. J. Nicolson. M. (2004). 9.iste. (Eds. pedagogy. P. Heiser. and technology. Koehler. 123–149. 42. A. T. Journal of Research on Technology in Education. (2011). Faculty development by design: Integrating technology in higher education.editlib. S. (2011). J. (2009). D.au Ó 2012.Distance Education 129 Downloaded by [Trisha Poole] at 02:12 30 April 2012 Gallardo.. P. Charlotte.org/p/14799 Mishra. E. & Nicolson. In R. 232–245). Edinburgh: Dunedin. K.edu. Australia tpoole@csu. J. 60–70..). 41..citejournal. M. & M. & Zhao. Thompson. Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK): The development and validation of an assessment instrument for preservice teachers. VA: AACE. Journal of Research on Technology in Education.aspx Trisha Poole Charles Sturt University. Yahya. A.). Mishra. M. Schmidt. What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education. & Shin. Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2004 (pp. M..org/learn/publications/journals/jrte.. & Mishra. & Koehler. Edinburgh: Dunedin..org/learn/publications/journals/jrte.. Teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning activity types: Curriculum-based technology integration reframed. D. M. J.. L. Mishra..). Y. Successful teaching with technology: The complex interplay of content. S. (2009). 393–416.. J.org Koehler. Harris. 2347–2354).. M. (Eds. Language teaching in blended contexts (pp. & Southgate.. Retrieved from http://www. Retrieved from http://www. L. Southgate (Eds. Retrieved from http://www.
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