Lawrence, G. et al (2014). Exploring the Feasibility of E-Learning in Ontario ESL Programs. Contact, 40(1), 12-18.
A report of a study in Ontario examining the feasibility of integrating e-learning in Adult ESL programs. This multi-phase research study included a comprehensive review of global trends in e-learning in ESL and an extensive online survey and focus group consultation with ESL students, instructors and program administrators. The researchers also conducted a review of how ESL programs are currently using e-learning. The research findings show that a blended learning approach is favoured by a majority of the stakeholders. Those surveyed reported that they recognize and are enthusiastic about the potential of a blended learning approach to expand and extend learning opportunities. However, as with similar studies, respondents identified a range of issues and challenges related to technology infrastructure, connectivity and technology support, as well as the need for appropriate training and professional development and the need to ensure that students have the necessary computer skills. These issues must be addressed for the successful implementation of a blended learning approach.
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Geoff Lawrence. (2014, May). A Call for the human feel in today’s increasingly blended world. Contact Magazine Special Research Symposium Issue, 40(2), 128–141.
The author presents research on the reported benefits of using Technology-mediated language learning for both instructors and learners, as well as the importance of instructional design on meeting learner outcomes. He then examines the potential for adult non-credit ESL programs in Ontario from results of a multi-phased feasibility study. The findings indicate that the majority of ESL instructors continue to use primarily a face- to-face approach in their teaching. After describing the barriers to use, he also discusses an emerging theme: the crucial role of social interaction and the need for teacher-mediated learning. This was described by one participant as keeping “the human feel” in the learning environment and emphasized the importance of the teacher in the learning process. Some instructors warned about the isolating nature of self-directed technology environments. In the section “The Blended Solution”, the author lists some of the advantages to this approach identified by study participants. He also notes that by itself, a blended approach will not address concerns about isolation; this depends on both the pedagogy and the instructor. Lawrence goes on to highlight the need for strategic, interactive program design.
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