2007/06/25

CALL and its dimensions

M. Levy & G. Stockwell (2006) looks in depth at seven important dimensions of CALL:

  1. design
  2. evaluation
  3. computer-mediated communication
  4. theory
  5. research
  6. practice
  7. technology
"There are 10 chapters in this book: an introduction, seven chapters that cover the dimensions of CALL, and two concluding chapters that complete the book."

The concluding chapters deal with ICT integration ("what integration really means and how it might be accomplished in institutional settings such as schools and universities") and the distinction between emergent CALL and established CALL.

"One of the real problems for the language teacher, software designer, or researcher who wishes to use technology in second -or foreign- language education is how to absorb and relate what has been achieved so far, and how to make sense of it. The kind of understanding that comes from a critical reading of a substantial literature in order to develop a balanced and detailed knowledge of the field is not easily achieved.
CALL Dimensions has been designed to address this problem."

It certainly does, with an excellent academic review of research done in the period 1995-2005, giving an accurate picture of the development and diversity of CALL in those years. Each chapter is divided into two sections: description and discussion. The description section reviews the recent literature of each dimension, identifying themes and selecting representative projects. The discussion section provides some analysis with further ideas and opinions from teachers.

However, as a teacher, don't expect ready to use materials, lesson or syllabus plans or even a selection of web resources. It isn't the aim of the book. This is mainly a research and theoretical review of CALL dimensions. But some important recent developments are missing or only just mentioned and not seen in depth: the educational use of wikis and its possibilities in language teaching, the use of blogs as language learning eportfolio, the use of new multimedia online tools and social web tools, podcasting and videocasting, the development of communities of practice (the important work developed by Webheads in Action is not mentioned) and the use of webquests in language teaching is only mentioned in a couple of pages. It seems that this rich dimension of emergent CALL is still to be developed or is being developed in the language teaching blogosphere and social networking.



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