2006/12/30

CALL history (1)


Reviewing CALL history can be something useful. As Davies (1997) points out, it is important that we learn from the lessons of the past - so that we don't repeat the same mistakes. Or as Beatty (2003) says:

It is important to preserve such history not just to give a sense of the changing focus of CALL over time, but also to ensure that researchers do not overlook earlier issues and developments and waste time reinventing the wheel.


The use of computers in language learning is not something new, as we all know. It began with large mainframe computers in some American universities in the 1960s. The most famous system of those times was PLATO (Programmed Logic/Learning for Automated Teaching), which was a pioneering platform developed by the University of Illinois working with a business partner (Control Data Corporation); its programming language was not only designed for the purpose of teaching languages and although it was finally turned off in the 1990s, the name is still used today. However, it was in the 1980s, with the appearance of micro or personal computers, when the use of computers for learning purposes started to spread. The evolution of its pedagogical possibilities has been related to technological change. The very few options of computers such as the Timex-Sinclair or the first Commodore cannot be compared with multimedia computers with CD-ROMs (Compact Disk Read-Only Memory), which have been replaced at present by larger volume media such as DVDs (Digital Videodiscs). Hundreds of new CALL programs were published in the 1990s, but it was the arrival of Internet connections what changed many things. In the last years broadband penetration has been growing quickly; however, we shouldn't forget that in many countries the vast majority of people simply don't have the computers and high speed net connections needed. New web social tools are the last technological evolution which have given computers greater communicative power (and learning a language has a lot to do with learning to communicate).


We have a complete description of CALL history in Delcloque (2000). He has divided the publications on CALL history into two categories:

A - Objective description of events and projects.
Examples of this first type are Ahmad, K. et al. (1985) [Computers, Language Learning and Language Teaching. CUP] and Levy (1997) [the reference is in a previous post].

B - Interpretative description of different phases.

to be continued

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