Richard Kern Lecture: "Technology and Language Learning: Why the Medium Matters"

Thursday, April 24, 2014 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM
Minor Hall, Room 125

Date/Time: 3:30-5PM, Thursday, April 24

Location: 125 Minor Hall

Speaker: Richard Kern

Title:  Technology and Language Learning: Why the Medium Matters

When language first became technologized in the form of writing, radically new codes, practices, and uses of language developed.  As technologies have changed, so have these codes, practices, and uses of language. This talk will illustrate the point that how people communicate is related to material factors as well as social and individual factors. Today, telecollaboration, social networking, online forums, massively multiplayer online games, collaborative writing and editing, and multimodal production tools provide opportunities for new kinds of social encounters, new kinds of communities, and new kinds of learning environments. Globalization and technology have made it possible for the world to come to us on our desktop, but it is easy to lose sight of the fact that what we see is a highly mediated and filtered version of the world.  Focusing on the crucial, yet often invisible, role that mediation plays in online language learning, I will outline both significant opportunities and potential pitfalls for language and culture learning.  I will argue that online language learning requires a pedagogical focus on the twin mediation processes of textualization and recontextualization, which connects what people do with computer technology to what people do with writing, photography, film, and other forms of designed discourse.  Such an approach exposes students to a broader scope of symbolic inquiry, connects past and present practices, and provides the perspective that will help them understand and shape future practices.

Richard Kern is Professor of French at UC Berkeley and Director of the Berkeley Language Center. He has been involved with researching uses of technology in language teaching for over 20 years is Associate Editor of the journal Language Learning & Technology. He is the author of Literacy and Language Teaching  (OUP, 2000), co-editor (with Mark Warschauer) of Network-based Language Teaching (CUP, 2000). He recently co-edited a research collection on videoconferencing (Décrire la conversation en ligne: le face à face distanciel) published by ENS Éditions in France, and is currently finishing a book entitled Language, Technology, and Literacy for Cambridge University Press.