Language learning, social media and social inclusion
Our aim: to analyse, understand and make recommendations on how to use social media to promote (physical and virtual) social inclusion in relation to language learning.
Social inclusion is a polysemic and complex phenomenon, which cannot just be limited to helping "have-nots", i.e. people who do not have the economic resources to use social media. In fact, people who have a lot of economic,social and cultural resources do not necessarily have access to social media, either because they do not feel the need to use them, or because they do not have the know-how.
This also applies to the context of language learning. So what we are interested in is:
- what do we mean by social inclusion/exclusion when dealing with social media?
- Who should be helped and how?
- How could language learning contribute to inclusion when combined with social media?
About our activities:
WEBINAR: Rethinking social inclusion through Web 2.0. What is on hold for the future of language education?
- The webinar took place on 28.4.2010 online on these issues. Invited speakers: Prof. Gráinne Conole (The Open University, UK) and Prof. Ruth Hillman (Åbo Akademi, Finland).
It can be viewed at: http://mediaserver.utu.fi/UTU/?luento=Debate
Related to the Webinar:
- An episode of the Podcast Absolutely Intercultural was dedicated to the webinar. Listen online at: http://www.absolutely-intercultural.com/?p=822
- An article in Finnish on social media and language learning, in relation to the Network activities http://www.utuonline.fi/sisalto/artikkeli/Sosiaaliset_mediat_kielenoppiminen_Dervin.html
- A forum on some of the issues touched upon during the webinar ensued until 1.7.2010.
A collection of papers entitled Technology Enhanced Learning against social exclusion (Special issue of the eLearning Papers e-journal; eds.Fred Dervin & Christine Develotte) was published in April 2010. Please check: http://elearningpapers.eu/en/paper/technology-enhanced-learning-against-social-exclusion
A list of three key issues and three recommendations on Social media, social inclusion and language learning were released in July 2010.
Key issues and recommendations for promoting the use of social media in language learning and teaching and boosting social inclusion
- The use of social media in language learning should not be limited to develop mere language skills; it should boost and promote reflection, through communicative skills, on learning in general and autonomous learning, respect for others and social exclusion/inclusion in their many and varied forms.
- Social media should alter and facilitate the way languages are learnt and not just replicate ‘traditional’ methodologies (teacher-centered, transmission-of-knowledge models of learning) or be used as an ‘add-on’. The functionalities of social media, such as cooperation, authoring information, knowledge and identities, etc. should be fully integrated in (in)formal language learning and teaching (planning, progression, assessment…).
- Integrating social media in language learning should contribute to wider social inclusion within classrooms and outside. Social media have a great potential to include groups that usually have restricted opportunities and access to regular language learning and teaching.
- Offer systematic, progressive, differentiated yet flexible training, guidance and technical support for all online or face-to-face, and through networks and communities.
- Provide learners and teachers, but also learners outside of the formal system of teaching-learning, with examples of good practices to show them why both language learning and social media matter. Ethical reflection on the pros and cons of using social media is necessary.
- Help learners find ways of combining social media with face-to-face interaction within and across borders.