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The views of the international experts on the symposium topics: the learning environment

on Wed, 12/11/2013 - 17:14

2. The views of the international experts on the symposium topics

2.1. Learning in the future learning environment

Andreas Müller-Hartmann does not expect the learning environment to change dramatically in the short term as for societies schools are the spaces where the training of the future potential workforce takes place. Because of this interest, states consequently want to have much influence and control over these institutions [Müller-Hartmann, 1].
This –in his view- is also testified by the relatively limited impact the ‘traditional’ educational renewal movements, such as Freinet, appear to have (had) on mainstream education [Müller-Hartmann, 2]. 

Nicolas Guichon finds it difficult, possibly even dangerous,  to make predictions, but observes that technologies develop faster than the changes that take place in schools [Guichon, 1]. From his research on the integration of ICT in language teaching it appears that teachers understand the importance of ICT but it still takes them too much time to learn to use applications. It would therefore be desirable if also policymakers recognized the importance of ICT training in the curriculum of initial teacher training [Guichon, 2]. Whether language education as we know it today, with students in a class year system led by a teacher working their way through a textbook will alter fundamentally in the future he finds difficult to answer because schools as institutions do not appear to change that quickly. He hopes, however, that a more informal organization will evolve which can accommodate a more flexible way of grouping students and support project-based activities where the teacher’s role is more coaching in nature. And also that language education does not exclusively take place in designated classrooms and where technological facilitation, currently still seen as an add-on, forms a natural part of the learning environment.  In this respect he can see great possibilities for the use of mobile phones [Guichon, 8].

Graham Davies observes that the technology-based learning environment in the United Kingdom (UK) is developing rapidly. In particular, the Web and the interactive whiteboard have made major contributions to the ways in which new technologies are used in teaching foreign languages. [Davies, 1].
In response to our observation that the use of the computer as a means for (oral) communication is becoming more important in language education Andreas Lund elaborates on telecollaboration [Lund, 1] and sketches the future development of this concept towards speech communities, in which the role of the teacher is increasingly of an organizing and coaching nature. He sees great opportunities for these types of networks because then the language itself is central and contacts with others and other communities can occur time and place independently. Regarding the implications for the curriculum he expects [Lund, 2] that learning objectives will guide planning and organizing the related online meetings.
Jozef Colpaert starts off by saying that the order of the symposium propositions, with the learning environment as a starting point, is well chosen [Colpaert, 1].   It also matches well with his own views.  Experience has shown that first the entire learning environment must be well designed before choices as to technological instrumentation can be made. Another aspect that he considers of great importance for the learning environment is the role of the teacher. Also to have a stimulating start of his presentations Colpaert often states that it takes a well-supported teacher to realize learner-centered education. After all, a learning environment that causes emotional and/or cognitive friction for teachers is counterproductive. Furthermore, he points out [Colpaert, 3] that the methodological approach itself is also part of the learning environment. And that consequently the local context should be analyzed first before a particular method (e.g., cognitivistic) is chosen.
For Colpaert a method consists of 3 parts: a teaching, a learning and an evaluation model, each defined in detail. For him the strength of a learning environment therefore is determined by the extent to which it is well matched to a specific local context [Colpaert, 4]